Change blindness and inattentional blindness are both failures of visual awareness. Change blindness is the failure to notice an obvious change. Inattentional blindness is the failure to notice the existence of an unexpected item. In each case, we fail to notice something that is clearly visible once we know to look for it. Despite similarities, each type of blindness has a unique background and distinct theoretical implications. Here, we discuss the central paradigms used to explore each phenomenon in a historical context. We also outline the central findings from each field and discuss their implications for visual perception and attention. In addition, we examine the impact of task and observer effects on both types of blindness as well as common pitfalls and confusions people make while studying these topics. WIREs Cogni Sci 2011 2 529-546 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.130 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.