We identified 24 ‘good’ and 24 ‘poor’ coherent motion detectors from an unselected sample of young adults. The two groups were matched for reading ability, age and IQ. All subjects carried out two tasks in which optimal performance depended on accurate letter position encoding: a lexical decision task and a primed reaction time task. We found that accurate letter position encoding was predicted by performance in the motion detection task. Since coherent motion detection depends on input from the magnocellular pathway, these findings suggest that information carried by the magnocellular system may be required for encoding letter position. Furthermore, these results may have implications for reading disability which is said to be associated with magnocellular dysfunction.