In primates, inferior temporal (IT) cortex is crucial for the processing and storage of visual information about form and colour. This article reviews the properties of IT neurons and considers how these properties may underlie the perceptual and mnemonic functions of IT cortex. The available evidence suggests that the processing of the facial image by IT cortex is similar to its processing of other visual patterns. Faces and other complex visual stimuli appear to be represented by the pattern of responses over a population of IT neurons rather than by the responses of specific `feature detectors' or `grandmother' cells. IT neurons with adult-like stimulus properties are present in monkeys as young as six weeks old.