Rapid eye movements and complex visual dreams are salient features of human rapid eye movement sleep. However, it remains to be elucidated whether the eyes scan dream images, despite studies that have retrospectively compared the direction of rapid eye movements to the dream recall recorded after having awakened the sleeper. We used the model of rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder (when patients enact their dreams by persistence of muscle tone) to determine directly whether the eyes move in the same directions as the head and limbs. In 56 patients with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder and 17 healthy matched controls, the eye movements were monitored by electrooculography in four (right, left, up and down) directions, calibrated with a target and synchronized with video and sleep monitoring. The rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder-associated behaviours occurred 2.1 times more frequently during rapid eye movement sleep with than without rapid eye movements, and more often during or after rapid eye movements than before. Rapid eye movement density, index and complexity were similar in patients with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder and controls. When rapid eye movements accompanied goal-oriented motor behaviour during rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder (e.g. grabbing a fictive object, hand greetings, climbing a ladder), which happened in 19 sequences, 82% were directed towards the action of the patient (same plane and direction). When restricted to the determinant rapid eye movements, the concordance increased to 90%. Rapid eye movements were absent in 38–42% of behaviours. This directional coherence between limbs, head and eye movements during rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder suggests that, when present, rapid eye movements imitate the scanning of the dream scene. Since the rapid eye movements are similar in subjects with and without rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder, this concordance can be extended to normal rapid eye movement sleep.