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Records in Lookup not visible until user selects them once from Tab

Records are not visible in a lookup until the user goes to the tab for the underlying object and clicks on the record for the first time.  It doesn't matter if another user entered the record, or if the record was imported using the APEX data loader.  Any help on why this is so?  It does not appear to be a security issue as it happens even with "modify all data" set on the user profile.
By default a lookup shows recently used objects.  If you haven't used any objects recently then the lookup will initially be blank until you search on something.
Thank you.  I see now that if I just search on any character, the list gets populated.  Thanks again.