To better understand the evolution of spatial and color vision, the number and spatial distributions of cones, rods, and optic nerve axon numbers were assessed in seven New World primates (Cebus apella, Saimiri ustius, Saguinus midas niger, Alouatta caraya, Aotus azarae, Calllithrix jacchus, and Callicebus moloch). The spatial distribution and number of rods and cones was determined from counts of retinal whole mounts. Optic axon number was determined from optic nerve sections by electron microscopy. These data were amassed with existing data on retinal cell number and distribution in Old World primates, and the scaling of relative densities and numbers with respect to retinal area, eye and brain sizes, and foveal specializations were evaluated. Regular scaling of all cell types was observed, with the exceptionally large, rod-enriched retina of the nocturnal owl monkey Aotus azarae, and the unusually high cone density of the fovea of the trichromatic howler monkey Alouatta caraya presenting interesting variations on this basic plan. Over all species, the lawful scaling of rods, cones, and retinal ganglion cell number is hypothesized to result from a conserved sequence of cell generation that defends retinal acuity and sensitivity over a large range of eye sizes.