This study examined the identification of English consonants in noise by native speakers of Italian. The effect of age of first exposure to English was evaluated by comparing three groups of subjects who continued to use Italian relatively often but differed according to their age of arrival (AOA) in Canada from Italy (early: 7, mid: 14, late: 19 years). The subjects in the late group made more errors identifying word-initial consonants than subjects in the early group did; however, the effect of AOA was non-significant for word-final stops. The effect of amount of native language (L1) use was evaluated by comparing two groups of early bilinguals who were matched for AOA (mean = 7 years) but differed according to self-reported percentage use of Italian (early: 32% early-low: 8%). The early bilinguals who used Italian often (early) made significantly more errors identifying word-initial and word-final consonants than native English (NE) subjects did, whereas the early bilinguals who used Italian seldom (early-low) did not differ from the NE subjects. The subjects' phonological short-term memory was estimated by having them repeat Italian non-words. This was done in an attempt to identify the source of individual differences. The nonword repetition scores were in fact found to independently account for 15% of the variance in subjects' errors identifying word-final English consonants and 8% of the variance for word-initial consonants. Copyright ® 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel.