An experiment was conducted to investigate object and gist perception under conditions of inattention. Participants performed an attentionally demanding central task while responding to a secondary peripheral task involving object categorization or gist identification in natural scenes. Participants were unexpectedly more accurate on object than gist categorization, a finding attributed to a possible facilitatory effect of object figure saliency. This hypothesis was confirmed by a second experiment comparing the peripheral tasks under single-task conditions. A third dual-task experiment was conducted to compare object and gist perception when controlling for figure saliency by using the exact same stimuli for both peripheral tasks. No significant differences were found in the third experiment. Conflicting results and methodological issues are thus discussed.