Abstract: PURPOSE: Part-based theories of object recognition have been around for nearly 20 years (Biederman 1987 Psych.Rev. 94 115-147) and there is recent evidence for part-based attention (Vecera/et.al. 2001 Percep.&Psych. 63, 308-321), but viewing strategies in object identification tasks have not been studied. What strategies do subjects employ when identifying objects? How are these strategies affected by the appearance of parts? We investigate these questions with a word identification task. METHODS: Subjects' horizontal and vertical eye positions were measured using the SRI Dual Purkinje Image Eye tracker. Words were presented with letters subtending 1 deg of visual angle to create a closer analogy to object identification tasks. Subjects returned to a central fixation marker after identifying the word that appeared in a random location. Four word conditions were used: unmasked (control), front, middle and end masked. RESULTS: In the control condition, subjects were able to identify the word in ~1 second. In all conditions, subjects first fixated at 35% of the word length, consistent with the optimal word reading location (O'Regan 1992 In Rayner: Eye movements and visual cognition p333-354). When the central region was masked, the fixation pattern was identical to that of the control condition, but dwell times increased by 50%. When the beginning and end regions were masked, additional fixations were made at 20% and 80% of the word length, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: First fixations fall on the most semantically meaningful part of the object, in our case, the root of the word. When the appearance of parts outside the fovea is inconsistent with the object hypothesis, subjects modify their strategy to include a fixation in the ambiguous region.