The end-artery retinal vasculature of a marsupial, the fat-tailed dunnart, was defined by India ink injection and studied in wholemounts. In the adult, the vitreal vasculature supplying the ganglion-cell layer has major paired-vessels in a horizontal H shape. These vessels skirt the area centralis and visual streak that are supplied by fine end-loops. A second vascular layer of uniformly distributed endloops arises from the superficial vessels and lies at the inner nuclear/outer plexiform border. During development, vessels enter the rye via the optic nerve head to form the upper vasculature, assuming an essentially mature arrangement prior to the formation of the area centralis and visual streak. Vessels then descend to form the lower bed. Unlike the cat, the dunnart has retinal vessels that are patent throughout development. their growth is interstitial and reductive remodelling is not seen. A retinal end-artery system may have evolved in marsupials because their precocity requires a vasculature that is functional from early stages of development. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.