Two left brain-damaged patients (L.A. and T.O.) with a selective impairment of auditory-verbal span are reported. Patient L.A. was unable to hold auditory-verbal material in the phonological store component of short-term memory. His performance was however normal on tasks requiring phonological judgements, which specifically involve the phonological output buffer component of the rehearsal process. He also showed some evidence that rehearsal contributed to the immediate retention of auditory-verbal material. Patient T.O. never made use of the rehearsal process in tasks assessing both immediate retention and the ability to make phonological judgements, but the memory capacity of the phonological short-term store was comparatively preserved. These contrasting patterns of impairment suggest that the phonological store component of verbal short-term memory was severely impaired in patient L.A., and spared, at least in part, in patient T.O. The rehearsal process was preserved in L.A., and primarily defective in T.O. The localisation of the lesions in the left hemisphere (L.A.: inferior parietal lobule, superior and middle temporal gyri; T.O.: sub-cortical premotor and rolandic regions, anterior insula) suggests that these two sub-components of phonological short-term memory have discrete anatomical correlates.