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Priming stimuli that spatially flank a fixated target stimulus may cause either facilitation or interference with target classification, depending on experimental context. Two experiments demonstrated distinct effects of response compatibility and semantic congruity between flankers and target. Response competition occurred when targets were flanked by context stimuli associated with the opposite response, but this effect diminished when the target was delayed relative to the flankers. Facilitative priming by response-compatible flankers, in contrast, required prior exposure of the flankers, and was strongly influenced by the semantic congruity of flankers and targets. These differing time courses suggest that perceptual priming encompasses a variety of distinct underlying cognitive and motor events.