The dorsolateral column of the mesencephalic periaqueductal grey (PAGdl) differs from its adjacent columns in terms of afferent and efferent connections and the distribution pattern of different histochemical substances. Functionally, PAGdl is associated with aversive and defensive behaviours, but in an earlier study of this laboratory [E.M. Klop et al. (2005) J. Comp. Neurol., 492, 303–322], it was found that PAGdl specifically receives input from the nucleus prepositus hypoglossi, which plays a role in oculomotor control. In search for other oculomotor-related brainstem structures projecting to PAGdl we studied the projections from the parabigeminal nucleus (PBGN) and its medially adjoining periparabigeminal area (PPBGA). In three cats, injections of wheatgerm agluttinin–horseradish peroxidase involving PAGdl did not, or to only a very limited extent, result in retrogradely labelled neurons in PBGN. When the peripheral parts of PAGdl were involved in the injection site, labelled neurons were located in PPBGA, while after an injection involving only the more central parts of PAGdl they were located in the tegmentum medial to the PPBGA. An anterograde tracing study using [3H]-leucine and biotinylated dextran amine affirmed that neurons in PPBGA project to more peripheral parts of PAGdl, while neurons located in the tegmentum medial to PPBGA project mainly to its central parts. These results provide further evidence for the existence of two different subdivisions of PAGdl. We hypothesize that PAGdl is alerted by sudden changes in the visual field, and that the PAGdl defensive system is inhibited when these changes are caused by eye movements.