Preview benefit is an attentional phenomenon that enables observers to selectively search through new information in the visual field. In a preview search task, objects are presented in two sets, separated by a time interval (preview interval), and with the second set (new objects) containing the target. Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were used to investigate whether preview benefit occurs via maintenance of inhibition of the old objects during the preview interval. ERPs time-locked to a color probe indicated that the old objects were actively attended rather than inhibited during the preview interval. Follow-up behavioral experiments produced converging results. The results suggest that, although participants might be using inhibition at later stages of the preview interval, they are not maintaining inhibition on the old objects throughout most of the preview interval. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.