We used a fully immersive virtual reality environment to study whether actively interacting with objects would effect subsequent recognition, when compared with passively observing the same objects. We found that when participants learned object structure by actively rotating the objects, the objects were recognized faster during a subsequent recognition task than when object structure was learned through passive observation. We also found that participants focused their study time during active exploration on a limited number of object views, while ignoring other views. Overall, our results suggest that allowing active exploration of an object during initial learning can facilitate recognition of that object, perhaps owing to the control that the participant has over the object views upon which they can focus. The virtual reality environment is ideal for studying such processes, allowing realistic interaction with objects while maintaining experimenter control.