Following code has been tested with jQuery 1.4.1 . Code demo links are the end of the blog .

fadeTo method of jQuery ,strangely, fades event the hidden elements.

Here is html markup.

<style> #hello p { display: none;}</style>
<div id='hello'>
  <p>this is p inside hello</p>
</div>
<p>This is p outside hello</p>

Since the first p is hidden, you will see only one p element in the browser. Now execute following jQuery code.

$('p').fadeTo('slow', 0.5');

You will see both the p elements.

jQuery goes out of its way to make sure that hidden elements are visible. Here is fadeTo method.

fadeTo: function( speed, to, callback ) {
	return this.filter(":hidden").css("opacity", 0).show().end()
				.animate({opacity: to}, speed, callback);
}

Also notice that for a hidden element fadeTo operation starts with opacity of zero, while other elements will go down towards zero.

Checkout the same demo in slow motion and notice that while the first p element emerges out of hiding, the other p element is slowing fading. This might cause unwanted effect . So watch out for this one.