Development of processing speed was examined in three backward masking studies. The first verified the central nature of backward masking for children aged 8 and 11 years and for adults. The second suggested that task requirements were equivalent for children similar to those in Study 1, and that age differences in performance were not attributable to nonprocessing variables. The main cross-sequential study estimated speed of processing in 80 children (approximately 6 years to 13 years) and young adults using an inspection time task. Target exposure duration was varied to establish the time required to achieve a high level of discriminative accuracy. Estimates of processing speed increased until about 11-13 years of age; beyond this, the trend was less obvious, and it is possible that inspection time asymptotes at around the onset of adolescence. Performance improvement after 1 year could not be explained as resulting from practice since improvement among controls over a period of 2 weeks was significantly less. Correlations between estimates of inspection time made up to 2 years apart found the measure to be reliable.