The brain mechanisms mediating visuospatial attention were investigated by recording event-related potentials (ERPs) during a line-orientation discrimination task. Nonpredictive peripheral cues were used to direct participant's attention involuntarily to a spatial location. The earliest attentional modulation was observed in the P1 component (peak latency about 130 ms), with the valid trials eliciting larger P1 than invalid trials. Moreover, the attentional modulations on both the amplitude and latency of the P1 and N1 components had a different pattern as compared to previous studies with voluntary attention tasks. In contrast, the earliest visual ERP component, C1 (peak latency about 80 ms), was not modulated by attention. Low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography (LORETA) showed that the earliest attentional modulation occurred in extrastriate cortex (middle occipital gyrus, BA 19) but not in the primary visual cortex. Later attention-related reactivations in the primary visual cortex were found at about 110 ms after stimulus onset. The results suggest that involuntary as well as voluntary attention modulates visual processing at the level of extrastriate cortex; however, at least some different processes are involved by involuntary attention compared to voluntary attention. In addition, the possible feedback from higher visual cortex to the primary visual cortex is faster and occurs earlier in involuntary relative to voluntary attention task.