Male horseshoe crabs, Limulus polyphemus, use their eyes to locate mates day and night. We investigated their ability to detect targets of different size and contrast in a mating area of Buzzards Bay, Cape Cod, MA. We found that males can see large, high-contrast targets better than small, low-contrast ones. For targets of the same size, animals must be about 0.1 m closer to a low-contrast target to see it as well as a high-contrast one. For targets of the same contrast, animals must be approximately 0.2 m closer to a small target to see it as well as one twice as large. A decrease of 0.05 steradians in the size of the retinal image of a target can be compensated by a four-fold increase in contrast. About 60% of the animals detect black targets subtending 0.110 steradians (equivalent to an adult female viewed from about 0.56 m), while only 20% detect targets subtending 0.039 steradians. This study shows that horseshoe crabs maintain about constant contrast sensitivity under diurnal changes in light intensity in their natural environment. As a consequence of circadian and adaptive mechanisms in the retina, male horseshoe crabs can detect female-size objects about equally well day and night.