There is growing evidence that face recognition is "special" but less certainty concerning the way in which it is special. The authors review and compare previous proposals and their own more recent hypothesis, that faces are recognized "holistically" (i.e., using relatively less part decomposition than other types of objects). This hypothesis, which can account for a variety of data from experiments on face memory, was tested with 4 new experiments on face perception. A selective attention paradigm and a masking paradigm were used to compare the perception of faces with the perception of inverted faces, words, and houses. Evidence was found of relatively less part-based shape representation for faces. The literatures on machine vision and single unit recording in monkey temporal cortex are also reviewed for converging evidence on face representation. The neuropsychological literature is reviewed for-evidence on the question of whether face representation differs in degree or kind from the representation of other types of objects.