Associate-recognition has received little attention as a potential clinical tool for detecting early Alzheimer's disease (AD). As an important preliminary stage to investigating the paradigm's diagnostic utility, we designed and administered a verbal associate-recognition task to healthy elderly participants (n = 62) and compared their performance to that on traditional cued-recall PAL. In both test conditions, the stimulus list comprised of a mixture of highly imageable and less imageable word pairs. Overall, performance on the associate-recognition task was superior to that on the cued-recall analogue. This 'recognition advantage' was not attributable to the higher baseline or chance guessing rate in the associate-recognition condition, as the size of the recognition advantage varied across learning trials and stimulus imageability. In comparison to performance on the imageable stimuli, performance on the less imageable stimuli was poor in both associate-recognition and cued-recall conditions. Across the delay, performances were more likely to drop in the cued-recall condition than the associate-recognition condition. These results suggest that verbal associate-recognition may be clinically efficacious and better tolerated in elderly populations than traditional cued-recall paradigms. Although these results are encouraging, further research is required to examine the utility of associate-recognition in clinical populations, particularly early AD.