Foveal target detection thresholds are elevated by presenting a counterphasing, vertical squarewave grating in the peripheral retina. This psychophysical "shift effect" has been considered to be an analogue of the neurophysiological "periphery effect" first described by McIlwain (1964; Journal of Neurophysiology, 27, 1154-1173). Physiological response properties of cells from the retina and lateral geniculate nucleus of cat and primate visual systems predict that sensitivity thresholds should also be elevated for peripheral targets in the presence of a foveal counterphasing mask. In these experiments, contrast sensitivities for human observers were obtained using a two-interval forced-choice procedure for peripheral target sinusoids in the presence of a foveal counterphasing mask. A suppressive shift effect was elicited by the foveal counterphasing squarewave mask, but only for counterphasing peripheral sinusoids. Masking was only obtained at the lowest spatial frequencies for both the peripheral and foveal shift effects.