There is controversy concerning the question of whether meaning can be extracted from a parafoveal word during reading and whether this might occur in an overlapping fashion with the lexical processing of the currently-fixated word. We suggest that previous attempts to investigate this have been bedevilled by problems associated with the use of priming methodology. Instead, we used an eye movement contingent change technique and manipulated the plausibility of the parafoveal preview, resulting in it being either valid, a plausible alternative, anomalous, or an illegal letter string. The results showed (a) a meaning-based parafoveal-on-foveal effect, (b) preview benefits driven by both orthographic and semantic influences, and (c) continuing disruption associated with orthographically dissimilar previews. We suggest that this pattern is most consistent with models of eye movement control that allow for distributed attention during reading.