In this experiment we investigated the role of the lexical status (word/non-word) of the target item in the determination of phoneme and syllable detection times. Subjects monitored either the initial stop consonants (/b/, /d/, /p/) or the initial CV syllables (/ba/, /de/, /pi/) in bisyllabic target items (word/non-word) in mixed lists. The lexical status of the target item did not introduce significant differences for phoneme or syllable detection times. However, significant differences were found between the phoneme and syllable detection times. In addition, a strong correlation between the phoneme and syllable RTs for each item (word/non-word) was obtained. The first result shows that subjects can respond to both initial phonemes and syllables prior to lexical access. The second result suggests that phoneme detection is highly dependent on syllable identification.