Evidence is presented for intermediate, wholistic visual representations of objects and non-objects that are computed online and independent of visual attention. Short-term visual priming was examined between visually similar shapes, with targets either falling at the (valid) location cued by primes or at another (invalid) location. Object decision latencies were facilitated when the overall shapes of the stimuli were similar irrespective of whether the location of the prime was valid or invalid, with the effects being equally large for object and non-object targets. In addition, the effects were based on the overall outlines of the stimuli and low spatial frequency components, not on local parts. In conclusion, wholistic shape representations based on outline form, are rapidly computed online during object recognition. Moreover, activation of common wholistic shape representations prime the processing of subsequent objects and non-objects irrespective of whether they appear at attended or unattended locations. Rapid derivation of wholistic form provides a key intermediate stage of object recognition.