The presence study contrasted young and middle-aged subjects on two components of a recognition memory task (a modified verbal discrimination task) that differed in level of difficulty. No age decrement was found for the easier component requiring discriminability between the oldness and newness of items. In addition, age was not a factor in determining the effects of prior relevance or irrelevance of item information on old-new discriminability. An age decrement was found for the more difficult component requiring discriminability in terms of an old item's prior function in the study list. The decrement occurred for the identification of prior function of both right and wrong items.