Acquired dyslexia offers a unique window on to the nature of the cognitive and neural architecture supporting skilled reading. This paper provides an integrative overview of recent empirical and computational work on acquired dyslexia within the context of the primary systems framework as implemented in connectionist neuropsychological models. This view proposes that damage to general visual, phonological or semantic processing abilities are the root causes of different forms of acquired dyslexia. Recent case-series behavioural evidence concerning pure alexia, phonological dyslexia and surface dyslexia that supports this perspective is presented. Lesion simulations of these findings within connectionist models of reading demonstrate the viability of this approach. The commitment of such models to learnt representations allows them to capture key aspects of performance in each type of acquired dyslexia, particularly the associated non-reading deficits, the role of relearning and the influence of individual differences in the premorbid state of the reading system. Identification of these factors not only advances our understanding of acquired dyslexia and the mechanisms of normal reading but they are also relevant to the complex interactions underpinning developmental reading disorders. © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.