1. The sensitivity of a cat's retinal ganglion cell to a small, dim, spot flashed upon the middle of the receptive field depends upon the size of a concentric steady background: sensitivity is reduced monotonically with background area. All backgrounds which equal or exceed in size the central summing area of the ganglion cell produce an equivalent reduction of sensitivity, even though only backgrounds which extend outside the central summing area depress the maintained discharge. 2. If a small background lies upon the middle of the receptive field, and the test spot is made intense enough to evoke a strong response, steady illumination of the periphery may make the response larger. 3. This change in response is not due to an enhancement of centre sensitivity by the surround, but is readily understood if steady illumination of the periphery adapts out the surround's antagonism of the centre's response to the test flash. 4. The failure of steady stimulation of the surround to alter centre sensitivity implies that signals from the surround subtract from, or add to, those from the centre.