The lateral geniculate nucleus relays visual information from the retina to cortex. One well-known anatomical consequence of monocular deprivation during early postnatal development is a shrinkage of neurons in the lamina of the lateral geniculate nucleus that receive input from the deprived eye. This is thought to reflect the competition of afferents subserving the two eyes, possibly at the level of the visual cortex. We find that blockade of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors in kitten visual cortex disrupts this process of binocular competition. These data provide direct evidence that postsynaptic activation of cortical neurons is required for competitive changes in lateral geniculate cell size and suggest a role for N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors in anatomical as well as physiological plasticity in the mammalian visual system.