We measured vision and task performance on 26 presbyopes, ages 46 to 65 years, fitted with diffractive bifocal contact lenses (BFCL) and monovision contact lenses (MVCL). Distance contact lenses combined with reading spectacles (DCL) served as the control condition. Twenty subjects completed the 6-week study. All subjects wore BFCL and MVCL daily for a period of 3 weeks each. Performance times for three near tasks were 6 to 8% longer with BFCL compared with DCL and 2 to 6% longer for MVCL compared with DCL. There were significant reductions in distance visual acuity with BFCL (0.4 to 1.5 Snellen lines) and MVCL (0.5 to 0.8 Snellen lines) compared to DCL. At the conclusion of the study, given a choice between BFCL and MVCL, 2 of the 20 subjects chose to continue wearing BFCL, whereas 18 of the 20 subjects chose MVCL. Our results show greater visual compromise and decreased task performance with BFCL and MVCL compared to DCL and greater patient preference for MVCL.