Active exploration of large-scale environments leads to better learning of spatial layout than does passive observation   . But active exploration might also help us to remember the appearance of individual objects in a scene. In fact, when we encounter new objects, we often manipulate them so that they can be seen from a variety of perspectives. We present here the first evidence that active control of the visual input in this way facilitates later recognition of objects. Observers who actively rotated novel, three-dimensional objects on a computer screen later showed more efficient visual recognition than observers who passively viewed the exact same sequence of images of these virtual objects. During active exploration, the observers focused mainly on the 'side' or 'front' views of the objects (see also   ). The results demonstrate that how an object is represented for later recognition is influenced by whether or not one controls the presentation of visual input during learning.