Visual motion perception is one of the most prominent functions performed by the mammalian cerebral cortex. The moving images are commonly considered to be processed in two stages. The first-stage neurons are sensitive to the motion of one-dimensional orientated components, and their outputs are combined at the second stage to perceive the global motion of the whole pattern. Alternatively, the pattern motion may be signalled by monitoring a distinctive feature of the image, such as a line-end or a corner. In the present study, a series of ‘random-line’ patterns were used to measure the direction-tuning responses of 138 neurons in the posteromedial lateral suprasylvian area of the cat. The novel stimuli comprised identical thin line segments, with a length : width ratio no less than 10 : 1, which were moved perpendicularly or obliquely to their common orientation during the recordings. When the component lines were much shorter than the size of receptive field, the majority of cells were selective to the direction of pattern motion while only a small subset was sensitive to the direction of component motion. However, the response profiles of most cells became more component-motion selective with the increment of orientation element in stimulus by elongating the component lines in the patterns. These findings imply that the two-stage theory might be incomplete for modelling the visual motion analysis. Even at relatively low levels of the visual system, some kind of nonorientation-based processing may coexist with the orientation-sensitive processing in a dynamic competition, where one rises as the other falls depending upon the strength of the orientation element in the stimulus, so that under some circumstances it becomes possible to signal the veridical direction of pattern motion.