The role of hemispheric differences for the encoding of words was assessed by requiring subjects to match tachistoscopically presented word pairs on the basis of their rhyming or visual similarity. The interference between a word pair's orthography and phonology produced matching errors which were differentially affected by the visual field/hemisphere of projection and sex of subject. In general, right visual field/left hemisphere presentations yielded fewer errors when word pairs shared similar phonology under rhyme matching and similar orthography under visual matching. Left visual field/right hemisphere presentations yielded fewer errors when word pairs were phonologically dissimilar under rhyme matching and orthographically dissimilar under visual matching. Males made more errors and demonstrated substantially stronger hemispheric effects than females. These patterns suggested visual field/hemispheric differences for orthographic and phonological encoding occurred during the initial stages of word processing and were more pronounced for male compared to female subjects.