Here we review the results of anatomical and physiological studies in tree shrew visual cortex which focus on the contribution of vertical and horizontal inputs to receptive field center and surround properties of layer 2/3 neurons. A fundamental feature of both sets of connections is the arrangement of axon arbors in a fashion that respects both the orientation preference and retinotopic displacement of the target site. As a result, layer 2/3 neurons receive convergent input from populations of layer 4 and other layer 2/3 neurons whose receptive fields are displaced along an axis in visual space that corresponds to their preferred orientation. Although, horizontal connections extend for greater distances across the cortical surface than vertical connections, the majority of these inputs link neurons with overlapping receptive fields, emphasizing that both feed-forward and recurrent circuits are likely to play a constructive role in generating properties (such as orientation selectivity) that define the receptive field center. Both within and beyond the dimensions of the receptive field center, the distribution of horizontal connections accords remarkably well with the magnitude and axial tuning of length summation effects. Taken together, these results suggest a continuum of functional properties that transcends the traditional designation of receptive field center and surround. By extension, we suggest that the perceptual effects of stimulus context may arise from stimulus interactions within the receptive field center as well as between center and surround.