Whether multiple conscious efforts at word search bring a subject closer to an elusive word and to eventual successful retrieval remains a subject of debate. Previous work with normal participants has shown that multiple attempts eventuating in correct retrieval are not usually associated with a systematic progression toward target word phonology in the intervening attempts. In this study we analyzed the naming errors produced by 30 aphasic patients who had received the Boston Naming Test. The analyses were designed to elucidate the characteristics of responses that led to eventual success. Our data showed that among aphasics, as with normal subjects, the presence of target-initial phonology in the subject's first response was the most important predictor of correct retrieval. Moreover, progression towards target phonology in the course of multiple attempts was unrelated to eventual correct retrieval.