Two experiments were conducted to examine whether the word-frequency effect in recognition memory is primarily a modality-dependent phenomenon. In the first experiment, the presentation modality of a target word was varied orthogonally during the input of the test phases. In the second, the subjects were forced to process each input word at the letter-byo letter level, thus minimizing the orthographical differences between the high- and low-frequency words. The word-frequency effect was found in every experimental condition and should be considered a modality-independent phenomenon. A semantically based interpretation of this effect was proposed.