We present data collected from two anomic aphasics. Thorough assessment of comprehension, oral reading and repetition revealed no underlying impairments suggesting that both patients were examples of classical anomia-word-finding difficulties without impaired semantics or phonology. We describe a series of experiments in which the degree of anomia was both increased and decreased, by cueing or priming with either a semantically related word or the target item. One of the patients also presented with an 'acquired' tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon. He was able to indicate with a high-degree of accuracy the syllable length of the target, and whether or not it was a compound word. Neither patient could provide the first sound/letter. The data are discussed in terms of discrete two-stage models of speech production, an interactive-activation theory and a distributed model in which the positive and negative computational consequences of the arbitrary relationship between sound and meaning are emphasised. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd.