Three experiments examine the syllable-frequency effect during visual word recognition in Spanish. Disyllabic words and pseudowords were employed manipulating the positional frequency of the first and the second syllable as well as the word frequency (only for words). A standard lexical decision task (Experiment 1) and a temporal separation technique (Experiments 2 & 3), in which either the first or the second syllable acted as a prime of the whole stimulus were used, measuring reaction times and errors. The results replicated the inhibitory effect of syllable-frequency obtained in several previous experiments in Spanish and offer support for an activational model incorporating a syllabic level. However, this type of model must incorporate sequential properties: both syllables activate lexical representations but they do not play exactly the same role, indicating a bias toward the first syllable. The implications of the findings for the notion of a sequential-type processing are discussed. Key words: visual word recognition, lexical access, syllable frequency.