This article tests the hypothesis that individuals with autism poorly encode verbal information to the semantic level of processing, instead paying greater attention to phonological attributes. Participants undertook a novel explicit verbal recall task. Twenty children with autism were compared with 20 matched typically developing children. On each trial, 20 words were presented individually on a computer screen. Half of the items were related through having either a common semantic theme, or a common phonological feature. Following a filler task, the participants were presented with a cue and asked to recall items consistent with the cue. No differences between the autism and comparison groups were found in either the semantic or the phonological condition. A follow-up comparison revealed that the participants with autism showed comparable levels of recall to an additional group of children matched in chronological age. The findings do not support the idea of a developmental delay in semantic encoding in children with autism.