The author argues that inversion (exemplified by such clauses as "in the garden sat a rabbit") serves an information-packaging function, linking relatively unfamiliar and relatively familiar information in the discourse. An examination of over 1,700 naturally-occurring inversions shows that the preposed constituent in a felicitous inversion never represents newer information within the discourse than does the postposed constituent. Moreover, information that has not been explicitly evoked in the prior discourse but which isnonetheless inferable in context is found to have the same distribution in inversion as does explicitly evoked information; both are treated as familiar within the discourse. Furthermore, the main verb in an inversion is shown to be subject to a pragmatic constraint to the effect that it not represent new information within the discourse. By demonstrating a rigorous correlation between a well-defined type of giveness and constituent position within a particular syntactic construction, this study sheds light on the complex relationship between information status and word order. This detailed study of discourse-functional constraints on the use of a marked syntactic construction, it will be of interest to researchers in both syntax and discourse.