Six- and 9-month-old infants were exposed to contingent or non-contingent perceptual stimulation from a source which was spatially displaced at 60° from the infant's midline. Reliable operant acquisition was observed in the case of the 9-month-old infants, but not in the case of the 6-month-old infants, whose performance was similar to that of non-contingent controls. Examination of visual fixations of the feedback source coincidental with touching the manipulandum revealed the emergence of a strategy in the older infants which appeared to be critical for response acquisition. The emergence of this strategy is interpreted in terms of the older infants' increased capacity to remain oriented to task-relevant stimuli which are no longer immediately visually available and to regulate behaviour on the basis of information derived from these stimuli.