The claim that the sensitivity of free recall to disruption by irrelevant sound is a function of the extent to which rote rehearsal is employed as a mnemonic strategy was investigated in two experiments. The degree of disruption by irrelevant sound in terms of both item and order information was contrasted under serial and free recall instructions. Irrelevant sound was found to disrupt order and item information equally in serial and free recall tasks (Experiment 1). Contrary to previous reports, an effect of irrelevant sound was also demonstrated on free recall of particularly long lists, and the interaction between list length and retention interval in the irrelevant sound effect was examined (Experiment 2). Generally, the results support the view that irrelevant sound disrupts the use of order cues.