Three experiments assessed the role of verbal and visuo-spatial working memory in supporting long-term repetition priming for written words. In Experiment 1, two priming tasks (word stem completion and category-exemplar production) were included with three levels of load on working memory: (1) without memory load, (2) memory load that involved storing a string of six digits, and (3) memory load that involved storing a graphic shape. Experiments 2 and 3 compared the effects of a verbal (Experiment 2) or a visual (Experiment 3) working memory load at encoding on both an implicit (word stem completion) and an explicit test (cued recall). The results show no effect of memory load in any of the implicit memory tests, suggesting that priming does not rely on working memory resources. By contrast, loading working memory at encoding causes a significant disruptive effect on the explicit memory test for words when the load is verbal but not visual. © 2004 Psychology Press Ltd.