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Electrophysiological techniques allow clinical investigations to include a ‘dissection’ of the visual system. Using suitable electrophysiological techniques, the ‘dissection’ allows function to be ascribed to the different photoreceptors (rod and cone photoreceptors), retinal layers, retinal location or the visual pathway up to the visual cortex. Combined with advances in genetics, retinal biochemistry, visual fields and ocular imaging, it is now possible to obtain a better understanding of diseases affecting the retina and visual pathways. This paper reviews core electrophysiological principles that can complement other examination techniques, including advanced ocular imaging, and help the interpretation of other clinical data and thus, refine and guide clinical diagnosis.