Do televised presidential debates affect audiences’perception of candidates’images more than their knowledge of candidates’issue positions? Existing communication theories offer two competing predictions, with one in favor of the effects on image perception and the other in favor of the effects on issue knowledge. Empirical studies have provided mixed evidence for both predictions. This article reports results of a new study of the effects of the first presidential debate in the 1992 election. Based on a review of various methodological weaknesses in previous studies, the current study used a between-subjects design involving repeated measures of issue knowledge and image perception. Results show that the viewers learned a great deal about candidates’issue positions that were discussed in the debate, but no learning took place of issues that were not debated. The debate did not affect the viewers’perception of the two well-known candidates'personalities but did improve the perception of the least well-known candidate, Ross Perot, on several debate-related personality traits.