This study had two goals. One was to assess whether the WMS-III Spatial Span subtest operates as a visual analogue of Digit Span while the second was to determine whether backward span is a more sensitive measure of working memory than the forward span condition. Analyses based on the WAIS-III-WMS-III standardization and clinical group data revealed some important distinctions between Digit and Spatial Span. The two tasks exhibited differences in patterns of performance on the forward versus backward conditions, in their relationships with age, and in their methodology. Moreover, the backward conditions of both Digit and Spatial Span did not appear more affected by risk factors such as aging or pathology than the forward scores. This runs contrary to the widespread notion that backward span provides differential sensitivity regarding working memory processing.