It is assumed that recognition memory for pictures is based on two types of information. The first is information about specific details in a picture. The process of encoding this type of information is identified with what N. H. Mackworth and others have termed looking at "informative areas" in pictures. The second informational component is designated as "general visual information." Two experiments were carried out investigating (a) the extent to which recognition responses to pictures are based on specific detail vs. general visual information, (b) whether the amount of specific detail information may be manipulated by varying the complexity of a target picture, and (c) the rate at which the two types of information are acquired. The results indicate that the rate of encoding specific details varies with the number of potential informative areas in a pictures and, given that a detail is encoded, memory performance is not substantially affected by target complexity, exposure time, or presence or absence of a mask.