The dendritic form of a cell may be established by many factors both intrinsic and environmental. Blockade of action potentials along the course of axons and in their postsynaptic targets dramatically alters the development of axonal morphology. The extent to which blockade of target cell activity retrogradely alters the dendritic morphology of the presynaptic cells is unknown. To determine whether the establishment of dendritic form by developing retinal canclion cells depends on activity within their targets, the sodium channel blocker, tetrodotoxin (TTX), was administered via minipumps to the diencephalon of cat fetuses from embryonic day 43 (E43) to E57. At E57 retinae were removed and living retinal ganglion cells injected in vitro with Lucifer yellow to reveal their dendritic morphology. In the TTX-treated animals both alpha and beta types of retinal ganglion cells were present, as were putative gamma cells. Overall, the dendrites of retinal ganglion cells in TTX-treated animals appeared qualitatively and Quantitatively similar to those of untreated animals. The only significant change in the TTX-treated cases was a small increase in the number of dendritic spines on the non-beta cells. These results indicate that the acquisition of basic dendritic form of developing ganglion cells is not influenced by the action potential activity within their targets, and that it is also independent of the terminal branching patterns of their axons.