In this study, we investigated the time course of oculomotor competition between bottom-up and top-down selection processes using saccade trajectory deviations as a dependent measure. We used a paradigm in which we manipulated saccade latency by offsetting the fixation point at different time points relative to target onset. In experiment 1, observers made a saccade to a filled colored circle while another irrelevant distractor circle was presented. The distractor was either similar (i.e., identical) or dissimilar to the target. Results showed that the strength of saccade deviation was modulated by target distractor similarity for short saccade latencies. To rule out the possibility that the similar distractor affected the saccade trajectory merely because it was identical to the target, the distractor in experiment 2 was a square shape of which only the color was similar or dissimilar to the target. The results showed that deviations for both short and long latencies were modulated by target distractor similarity. When saccade latencies were short, we found less saccade deviation away from a similar than from a dissimilar distractor. When saccade latencies were long, the opposite pattern was found: more saccade deviation away from a similar than from a dissimilar distractor. In contrast to previous findings, our study shows that task-relevant information can already influence the early processes of oculomotor control. We conclude that competition between saccadic goals is subject to two different processes with different time courses: one fast activating process signaling the saliency and task relevance of a location and one slower inhibitory process suppressing that location. Copyright © 2009 The American Physiological Society.