Traditional bottom-up models of visual processing assume that figure-ground organization precedes object recognition. This assumption seems logically necessary: How can object recognition occur before a region is labeled as figure? However, some behavioral studies find that familiar regions are more likely to be labeled figure than less familiar regions, a problematic finding for bottom-up models. An interactive account is proposed in which figure-ground processes receive top-down input from object representations in a hierarchical system. A graded, interactive computational model is presented that accounts for behavioral results in which familiarity effects are found. The interactive model offers an alternative conception of visual processing to bottom-up models.