We examined relationships between the pattern of geniculocortical innervation and the dendritic fields of cells in layer 4 of in cat primary visual cortex. Experiments were performed on normal animals and on cats in which the geniculocortical projection was altered by monocular deprivation or by the induction of divergent squint during the critical period. Thalamic afferents providing the input from the contralateral eye were anterogradely labeled by injecting the fluorescent tracer Dil into lamina A of the lateral geniculate nucleus. Intracellular staining with Lucifer yellow in slice preparations allowed simultaneous visualization of the morphology of individual cells and the thalamic afferents. Our results demonstrate that spiny stellate cells close to the upper and lower margin of the geniculocortical input have highly asymmetric dendritic fields, and thereby confine their dendrites to the termination zone of these afferents. This effect was specific for the cell class; it was not observed in pyramidal neurons. These dendritic asymmetries perpendicular to the laminar borders of spiny stellate cells were not altered by monocular deprivation or strabismus. In contrast, visual deprivation strongly influenced the dendritic arbors of spiny stellate cells near the borders between adjacent ocular dominance columns. In normal animals, the dendrites of cells near columnar borders remained preferentially within one column. These dendritic asymmetries became much more pronounced in strabismic animals. Monocular deprivation weakened the influence of the columnar borders on dendritic fields. Spiny stellate cells within the columns of the open eye exhibited a slight tendency to confine their dendrites to these columns. Cells in the columns of the deprived eye showed the opposite effect; they extended their dendrites preferentially into the adjacent columns of the open eye. These results demonstrate that the segregation of geniculocortical afferents into ocular dominance columns and its perturbation by manipulation of the visual input plays an important role in defining the morphology of cortical target cells. Thus, activity-dependent structural changes not only occur at the level of the presynaptic terminals, but also at the level of the postsynaptic target cells, and thereby contribute to build up the functional architecture of the cortex.