The role of sustained and transient mechanisms in pattern and flicker perception has been examined in two discrimination experiments. In the first, observers were required to analyze the temporal or spatial properties of a stimulus that highly stimulated either sustained or transient mechanisms. The results were only partially consistent with a model identifying sustained mechanisms with pattern perception and transient mechanisms with flicker perception. In the second experiment a subthreshold summation paradigm was used to explore interactions among those mechanisms that encode the temporal and spatial properties of a stimulus. The effect of a subthreshold temporal-frequency change on discrimination performance could not be explained by models in which temporal-frequency and spatial-frequency changes are evaluated separately and then combined.