A paradigm for the design of systems that manage level of detail in virtual environments is proposed. As an example of the prototyping step in this paradigm, a user study was performed to evaluate the effectiveness of high-detail insets used with head-mounted displays. Ten subjects were given a simple search task that required the location and identification of a single target object. All subjects used seven different displays (the independent variable), varying in inset size and peripheral detail, to perform this task Frame rate, target location, subject input method, and order of display use were all controlled. Primary dependent measures were search time on trials with correct identification, and the percentage of all trials correctly identified. ANOVAs of the results showed that insetless, high-detail displays did not lead to significantly different search times or accuracies than displays with insets. In fact, only the insetless, low-detail display returned significantly different results. Further research is being performed to examine the effect of varying task complexity, inset size, and level of detail.