The cost of attending to a visual event can be the failure to consciously detect other events. This processing limitation is well illustrated by the attentional blink paradigm, in which searching for and attending to a target presented in a rapid serial visual presentation stream of distractors can impair one's ability to detect a second target presented soon thereafter. The attentional blink critically depends on 'top-down' attentional settings, for it does not occur if participants are asked to ignore the first target. Here we show that 'bottom-up' attention can also lead to a profound but ephemeral deficit in conscious perception: Presentation of a novel, unexpected, and task-irrelevant stimulus virtually abolishes conscious detection of a target presented within half a second after the 'Surprise' stimulus, but only for its earliest occurrences (generally 1 to 2 presentations). This powerful but short-lived deficit contrasts with a milder but more enduring form of attentional capture that accompanies singleton presentations in rapid serial visual presentations. We conclude that the capture of stimulus-driven attention alone can limit explicit perception.