We investigated contour processing and figure-ground detection within human retinotopic areas using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in 6 healthy and naYve subjects. A figure (6° side length) was created by a 2nd-order texture contour. An independent and demanding foveal letter-discrimination task prevented subjects from noticing this more peripheral contour stimulus. The contour subdivided our stimulus into a figure and a ground. Using localizers and retinotopic mapping stimuli we were able to subdivide each early visual area into 3 eccentricity regions corresponding to 1) the central figure, 2) the area along the contour, and 3) the background. In these subregions we investigated the hemodynamic responses to our stimuli and compared responses with or without the contour defining the figure. No contour-related blood oxygenation level-dependent modulation in early visual areas V1, V3, VP, and MT+ was found. Significant signal modulation in the contour subregions of V2v, V2d, V3a, and LO occurred. This activation pattern was different from comparable studies, which might be attributable to the letter-discrimination task reducing confounding attentional modulation. In V3a, but not in any other retinotopic area, signal modulation corresponding to the central figure could be detected. Such contextual modulation will be discussed in light of the recurrent processing hypothesis and the role of visual awareness.