Other-race individuals are remembered more poorly and receive less holistic/configural processing than same-race individuals, at least when faces are novel. Here, we examine the amelioration of these effects with familiarity, using distinctiveness-matched Caucasian and Asian stimulus sets. We confirmed a cross-race deficit for upright faces following a single encoding trial, which disappeared rapidly with practice on a small set of other-race 'friends' and did not re-emerge when perceptual processing was put under stress (presentation in the periphery). We also examined holistic/configural processing for familiarised faces using the peripheral inversion effect (McKone, 2004 Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 30 181-197). A test for faces and nonface objects (dogs) confirmed the validity of this technique as providing a direct measure of holistic processing; we then showed that, after 1 h of training, holistic processing was as strong for other-race as same-race faces. We conclude that practice with other-race individuals can rapidly engage normal face-processing mechanisms.