The bird visual system includes a substantial projection, of unknown function, from a midbrain nucleus to the contralateral retina. Every centrifugal, or efferent, neuron originating in the midbrain nucleus makes synaptic contact with the soma of a single unique amacrine cell, the target cell (TC). By labeling efferent neurons in the midbrain, we have been able to identify their terminals in retinal slices and make patch-clamp recordings from TCs. TCs generate Na+-based action potentials (APs) triggered by spontaneous EPSPs originating from multiple classes of presynaptic neurons. Exogenously applied glutamate elicited inward currents having the mixed pharmacology of NMDA, kainate, and inward rectifying AMPA receptors. Exogenously applied GABA elicited currents entirely suppressed by GABAzine and therefore mediated by GABAA receptors. Immunohistochemistry showed the vesicular glutamate transporter, vGluT2, to be present in the characteristic synaptic boutons of efferent terminals, whereas the GABA synthetic enzyme, GAD, was present in much smaller processes of intrinsic retinal neurons. Extracellular recording showed that exogenously applied GABA was directly excitatory to TCs and, consistent with this, NKCC, the Cl− transporter often associated with excitatory GABAergic synapses, was identified in TCs by antibody staining. The presence of excitatory retinal input to TCs implies that TCs are not merely slaves to their midbrain input; instead, their output reflects local retinal activity and descending input from the midbrain.