The effect of temporal discontinuity on visual search was assessed by presenting a display in which one item had an abrupt onset, while other items were introduced by gradually removing line segments that camouflaged them. We hypothesized that an abrupt onset in a visual display would capture visual attention, giving this item a processing advantage over items lacking an abrupt leading edge. This prediction was confirmed in Experiment 1. We designed a second experiment to ensure that this finding was due to attentional factors rather than to sensory or perceptual ones. Experiment 3 replicated Experiment 1 and demonstrated that the procedure used to avoid abrupt onset--camouflage removal--did not require a gradual waveform. Implications of these findings for theories of attention are discussed.