Positive- and negative-contrast stimuli yield the perceptions of brightness and darkness, respectively, and are processed separately by ON and OFF neural pathways. The properties of these morphologically and pharmacologically distinct subsystems were measured in humans by recording visual evoked potentials (VEPs). These electrical responses from the visual cortex were elicited by novel positive- and negative-contrast stimuli, designed to emphasize, selectively, contributions from ON and OFF pathways. Results revealed differential processing of the two types of contrast information, suggesting asymmetries in ON and OFF subsystems; OFF subsystems have finer spatial tuning and greater contrast gain than ON subsystems. These VEPs may be useful in diagnosing neurological disorders that involve primarily one subsystem.