Previous studies of foveal visual word recognition provide evidence for a low-level syllable decomposition mechanism occurring during the recognition of a word. We investigated if such a decomposition mechanism also exists in peripheral word recognition. Single words were visually presented to subjects in the peripheral field using a 6 degrees square gaze-contingent simulated central scotoma. In the first experiment, words were either unicolor or had their adjacent syllables segmented with two different colors (color/syllable congruent condition). Reaction times for correct word identification were measured for the two different conditions and for two different print sizes. Results show a significant decrease in reaction time for the color/syllable congruent condition compared with the unicolor condition. A second experiment suggests that this effect is specific to syllable decomposition and results from strategic, presumably involving attentional factors, rather than stimulus-driven control. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.