We investigated the immediate and long-term changes in static eye alignment with acute superior oblique palsy (SOP) in the monkey. When the paretic eye was patched immediately after the lesion for 6-9 days, vertical alignment slowly improved. When the patch was removed and binocular viewing was allowed, alignment slowly worsened. In contrast when a monkey was not patched immediately after the lesion vertical alignment did not improve. We also show that a model of the eye plant can reproduce the observed acute deficit induced by SOP, but only by abandoning Robinson's symmetric simplification of the reciprocal innervation relationship within pairs of agonist-antagonist muscles. The model also demonstrated that physiologic variability in orbital geometry can have a large impact on SOP deficits.