In the last two decades, research has shown that eye movement trajectories can be modified by situational determinants. These modifications can inform us about the mechanisms that control eye movements and they can yield information about the oculomotor, memory and attention system that is not easily obtained via other sources. Eye movement trajectories can deviate either towards or away from elements in the visual field. We review the conditions in which these deviations are found and the mechanisms underlying trajectory deviations. It is argued that deviations towards an element are caused by the unresolved competition in the oculomotor system between elements in a visual scene. Deviations away from an element are mainly observed in situations in which top-down preparation can influence the target selection process, but the exact cause of such deviations remains unclear. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.