BACKGROUND/AIMS: Visual functions of neurologically impaired children with permanent cerebral visual impairment (CVI) can be difficult to determine. This study investigated the behavioural profile of CVI children by means of ethological observations in order to gain a better understanding of their visual functions. METHODS: Video registrations of nine subjects who were unable to undergo more orthodox methods of visual function testing were observed and analysed by an ethologist. RESULTS: A series of behaviours (direct signs) and supportive or confirming behavioural elements (indirect signs) indicating some visual perception in the children were found. CONCLUSION: Detailed ethological observations of visual behaviour were shown to be useful for analysing visual functions of children with permanent CVI.