The dendritic development of a well-characterized retino-recipient neuronal type in the chicken optic tectum has been traced with intracellular labeling. Normal dendritic development can be divided into three phases: extension, differentiation and pruning. During the first phase, cells extend their dendrites, generate large dendritic fields and position their distal endings in a certain retino-recipient tectal layer. In the second phase, these dendritic endings arborize into characteristic bottlebrush-like structures, while the overall morphology of the neurons remains unaltered. After hatching, the number and width of the bottlebrush endings are reduced. The findings are discussed with respect to the innervation of the optic tectum by retinal afferents and possible guidance mechanisms for synapse formation in this system.