The possibility that during Chinese reading information is extracted at the beginning of the current fixation was examined in this study. Twenty-four participants read for comprehension while their eye movements were being recorded. A pretarget-target two-character word pair was embedded in each sentence and target word visibility was manipulated in two time intervals (initial 140 ms or after 140 ms) during pretarget viewing. Substantial beginning- and end-of-fixation preview effects were observed together with beginning-of-fixation effects on the pretarget. Apparently parafoveal information at least at the character level can be extracted relatively early during ongoing fixations. Results are highly relevant for ongoing debates on spatially distributed linguistic processing and address fundamental questions about how the human mind solves the task of reading within the constraints of different writing systems. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.