It is becoming accepted that the associative strength of a cue can change in its absence, despite this being difficult to explain using existing theories of Pavlovian conditioning. To investigate the influence of timing on learning about the representation of an absent cue, lithium chloride (LiCl) or a flavour previously paired with LiCl was presented in a distinctive context that had previously been paired with a neutral target flavour. The former treatment produced an aversion to the target flavour whether the LiCl was presented 10 min before, or immediately after, exposure to the context. However, presenting the flavour associate of LiCl created an aversion to the target flavour only if it had been presented 10 min after LiCl during initial training. This pattern of results cannot be explained in the terms of a simple timing account, and it is proposed that an explanation will require different associative rules operating in simultaneous and successive training schedules.