The flankers paradigm and the prime/probe paradigm for the study of positive and negative priming are based on the compatibility between relevant and irrelevant information present in the same stimuli or stimuli that are spatially or temporally contiguous. In the flankers paradigm, distractors presented at the same time as the target can produce enhanced performance for compatible flankers and impaired performance for incompatible ones. In the priming paradigm, distractors can facilitate or interfere with responses to compatible targets that are presented later. In the experiments described here we have achieved a gradual transition between these two paradigms, through the use of the Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) procedure, by manipulating distractor compatibility and the temporal spacing between distractors and targets. With short SOAs compatible distractors facilitate and incompatible distractors interfere; but with SOAs around 400 ms performance is worse with compatible than with incompatible distractors. Similar results have been obtained either with paradigms in which participants must make a response to the stimulus that produces the effect (it is a target) or with paradigms where they do not have to make a response (it is a distractor). The present results provide strong constraints on theoretical explanations for the flanker compatibility effect and the temporal dynamics of positive and negative priming.