Recent studies indicate that emotion enhances early vision, but the generality of this finding remains unknown. Do the benefits of emotion extend to all basic aspects of vision, or are they limited in scope? Our results show that the brief presentation of a fearful face, compared with a neutral face, enhances sensitivity for the orientation of subsequently presented low-spatial-frequency stimuli, but diminishes orientation sensitivity for high-spatial-frequency stimuli. This is the first demonstration that emotion not only improves but also impairs low-level vision. The selective low-spatial-frequency benefits are consistent with the idea that emotion enhances magnocellular processing. Additionally, we suggest that the high-spatial-frequency deficits are due to inhibitory interactions between magnocellular and parvocellular pathways. Our results suggest an emotion-induced trade-off in visual processing, rather than a general improvement. This trade-off may benefit perceptual dimensions that are relevant for survival at the expense of those that are less relevant.