Using the single-word self-paced reading task, three experiments investigated parsing of temporarily ambiguous sentences containing complement verbs. The verbs differed in the likelihood with which they are typically followed by a direct object (NP-bias verbs) or a clausal complement (clausal-bias verbs). When the potential direct object was short, readers were "garden-pathed" after NP-bias verbs, but not after clausal-bias verbs. The pragmatic plausibility of the potential direct object also only influenced responses in sentences containing NP-bias verbs. The results suggest that lexical expectations may determine the initial structural assignment made by the reader in these sentences. It was argued that models of parsing should incorporate a role for lexical expectations at an early stage of syntactic decision-making.