In this review we examine how attention is involved in detecting faces, recognizing facial identity and registering and discriminating between facial expressions of emotion. The first section examines whether these aspects of face perception are “automatic”, in that they are especially rapid, non-conscious, mandatory and capacity-free. The second section discusses whether limited-capacity selective attention mechanisms are preferentially recruited by faces and facial expressions. Evidence from behavioral, neuropsychological, neuroimaging and psychophysiological studies from humans and single-unit recordings from primates is examined and the neural systems involved in processing faces, emotion and attention are highlighted. Avenues for further research are identified.