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Infrared small-target detection plays an important role in image processing for infrared remote sensing. In this letter, different from traditional algorithms, we formulate this problem as salient region detection, which is inspired by the fact that a small target can often attract attention of human eyes in infrared images. This visual effect arises from the discrepancy that a small target resembles isotropic Gaussian-like shape due to the optics point spread function of the thermal imaging system at a long distance, whereas background clutters are generally local orientational. Based on this observation, a new robust directional saliency-based method is proposed incorporating with visual attention theory for infrared small-target detection. Experimental results demonstrate that the proposed algorithm outperforms the state-of-the-art methods for real infrared images with various typical complex backgrounds.