Little is known about how or where the visual system parses the visual scene into objects or surfaces. However, it is generally assumed that the segmentation and grouping of pieces of the image into discrete entities is due to 'later' processing stages, after the 'early' processing of the visual image by local mechanisms selective for attributes such as colour, orientation, depth, and motion. Speed perception is also thought to be mediated by early mechanisms tuned for speed. Here we show that manipulating the way in which an image is parsed changes the way in which local speed information is processed. Manipulations that cause multiple stimuli to appear as parts of a single patch degrade speed discrimination, whereas manipulations that perceptually divide a single large stimulus into parts improve discrimination. These results indicate that processes as early as speed perception may be constrained by the parsing of the visual image into discrete entities.