One of the open questions in oculomotor control of visually guided eye movements is whether it is possible to smoothly track a target along a curvilinear path across the visual field without changing the torsional stance of the eye. We show in an experimental study of three-dimensional eye movements in subhuman primates (Macaca mulatta) that although the pursuit system is able to smoothly change the orbital orientation of the eye's rotation axis, the smooth ocular motion was interrupted every few hundred milliseconds by a small quick phase with amplitude <1.5° while the animal tracked a target along a circle or ellipse. Specifically, during circular pursuit of targets moving at different angular eccentricities (5°, 10°, and 15°) relative to straight ahead at spatial frequencies of 0.067 and 0.1 Hz, the torsional amplitude of the intervening quick phases was typically around 1° or smaller and changed direction for clockwise vs. counterclockwise tracking. Reverse computations of the eye rotation based on the recorded angular eye velocity showed that the quick phases facilitate the overall control of ocular orientation in the roll plane, thereby minimizing torsional disturbances of the visual field. On the basis of a detailed kinematic analysis, we suggest that quick phases during curvilinear smooth tracking serve to minimize deviations from Donders' law, which are inevitable due to the spherical configuration space of smooth eye movements.