Two main theories of visual word recognition have been developed regarding the way orthographic units in printed words map onto phonological units in spoken words. One theory suggests that a string of single letters or letter clusters corresponds to a string of phonemes (Coltheart, 1978; Venezky, 1970), while the other suggests that a string of single letters or letter clusters corresponds to coarser phonological units, for example, onsets and rimes (Treiman & Chafetz, 1987). These theoretical assumptions were critical for the development of coding schemes in prominent computational models of word recognition and reading aloud. In a reading-aloud study, we tested whether the human reading system represents the orthographic/phonological onset of printed words and nonwords as single units or as separate letters/phonemes. Our results, which favored a letter and not an onset-coding scheme, were successfully simulated by the dual-route cascaded (DRC) model (Coltheart, Rastle, Perry, Langdon, & Ziegler, 2001). A separate experiment was carried out to further adjudicate between 2 versions of the DRC model.