We studied the effects of eccentric auditory cues to clarify the conditions that evoke inhibition of return (IOR). We found that auditory cues positioned 12 degrees to the left or right of midline failed to produce IOR whereas visual cues produced IOR under the same experimental conditions. The eccentric auditory cues elicited automatic orienting as evidenced by more rapid detection of cued than uncued visual targets at short stimulus onset asynchrony. Yet these same cues did not produce IOR unless observers were required to saccade to the cue and back to center before generating a manual detection response. Thus, under the conditions examined herein automatic orienting was not sufficient to evoke IOR, but oculomotor activation appeared to be essential. The functional significance of IOR and the question of modality-specific orienting processes are considered.