A self‐paced vigilance task adapted from operant work was employed to study visual attention in hyperactive and normal children. The task distinguishes between two components of vigilance, observing responses and signal detention responses which are further divided into hits and false alarms. All subjects is were exposed to the same number of signal presentations under a low (VI 53) density and a high (VI 15) density schedule. Hyperactive children emitted a lower percentage of hits and a greater percentage of false alarms than normals. Hyperactive children showed observing response rater than normals. The educational implications of these findings are considered.