According to spreading activation models of automatic priming, highly related associates should yield stronger priming effects than weakly related associates. The strength of relations is usually based on word association norms. However, this strength effect has been found in some studies but not in others. The present study suggests that one factor that might be responsible for this inconsistency is whether the weak associate is the primary or nonprimary response in the word association norms. This possibility was explored by comparing priming effects of weak nonprimary and primary associates with those of strong primary associates. Comparable priming effects were found for the strong and weak primary associates whereas the weak nonprimary associates did not yield any priming effects. These results were obtained both in paired (Experiment 1) and single (Experiment 2) presentation priming procedures. Thus, the rank of the associate is an important factor in predicting the magnitude of the priming effect.