To investigate the neural bases of consonant and vowel processing, event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded while participants read words and pseudowords in a lexical decision task. The stimuli were displayed in three different conditions: (i) simultaneous presentation of all letters (baseline condition); (ii) presentation of all letters, except that two internal consonants were delayed for 50 msec (consonants-delayed condition); and (iii) presentation of all letters, except that two internal vowels were delayed for 50 msec (vowels-delayed condition). The behavioral results showed that, for words, response times in the consonants-delayed condition were longer than in the vowels-delayed condition, which, in turn, were longer than in the baseline condition. The ERPs showed that, starting as early as 150 msec, words in the consonants-delayed condition produced a larger negativity than words in vowels-delayed condition. In addition, there were peak latency differences and amplitude differences in the P150, N250, P325, and N400 components between the baseline and the two letter-delayed conditions. We examine the implications of these findings for models of visual-word recognition and reading.