The process of learning the structure of novel objects involves the selective use of information available in the distal stimulus. By allowing participants to explore the object within a limited field of view, we were able to examine more rigorously what regions of the object are actually selected in the learning process. Participants explored objects either by moving a circular aperture over a stationary novel object (the aperture-movement condition), or by moving the object behind a stationary aperture (the object-movement condition). Given the differences in how the spatial layout of object parts is revealed in the two study conditions, we expected that exploration would be more systematic in the aperture-movement condition than it would be in the object-movement condition, and would lead to better object recognition. We show evidence that in the aperture-movement condition exploration patterns were more related to the structure of the object and, as a consequence, the aperture-movement condition resulted in more accurate recognition in a later old--new discrimination test.