Research has shown that the processing time for discriminating illusory contours is longer than for real contours. We know, however, little whether the visual processes, associated with detecting regions of illusory surfaces, are also slower as those responsible for detecting luminance-defined images. Using a speed-accuracy trade-off (SAT) procedure, we measured accuracy as a function of processing time for detecting illusory Kanizsa-type and luminance-defined squares embedded in 2D static luminance noise. The data revealed that the illusory images were detected at slower processing speed than the real images, while the points in time, when accuracy departed from chance, were not significantly different for both stimuli. The classification images for detecting illusory and real squares showed that observers employed similar detection strategies using surface regions of the real and illusory squares. The lack of significant differences between the x-intercepts of the SAT functions for illusory and luminance-modulated stimuli suggests that the detection of surface regions of both images could be based on activation of a single mechanism (the dorsal magnocellular visual pathway). The slower speed for detecting illusory images as compared to luminance-defined images could be attributed to slower processes of filling-in of regions of illusory images within the dorsal pathway.