Web searching is a significant activity for many people seeking multimedia information. Major Web search engines, such as Alta Vista, are essential tools in the quest to locate relevant online information. As such, it is important that we understand how searchers utilize these Web information systems. This paper presents research that examines characteristics of multimedia Web searching on Alta Vista. More specifically, the research questions driving this study are: (1) What are the characteristics of multimedia searching on Alta Vista? and (2) How does this multimedia searching compare to Web searching in general? The results of our research show that multimedia searching is complex relative to general Web searching and that searching specific multimedia collections does not necessarily reduce the searching complexity. We discuss the implications of the findings for the development of online multimedia retrieval systems. COPYRIGHT 2003 ACM.