In the present research, the roles of lateral masking and central processing limitations in visual search were studied. Two search conditions were used: (1) target differed from distractors by presence/absence of a simple feature; (2) target differed by relative position of the same components only. The number of displayed stimuli (set-size) and the distance between neighbouring stimuli were varied as independently as possible in order to measure the effect of both. The effect of distance between stimuli (lateral masking) was found to be similar in both conditions. The effect of set-size was much larger for relative position stimuli. The results support the view that perception of relative position of stimulus components is limited mainly by the capacity of central processing.