Enhanced serial recall for linguistically familiar material is usually attributed to a process of item redintegration. The possibility tested here is that familiarity influences memory at the sequence level by enhancing the fluency with which items may be assembled into sequences. Experiment 1 showed that with practice, serial recall of nonwords improved more than that of words. Experiment 2 showed that the improvement in recall with practice was associated with increasing fluency in producing sequences but not with greater fluency in producing items. Experiment 3 suggested that enhanced co-articulation per se, rather than mere inter-item association, led to enhanced performance for familiar lists, since the effects of familiarisation with sequences of items generalised to sequences of different items if those items shared between-item co-articulatory transitions with the familiarised items. Experiment 4 showed that real differences in articulatory processing of familiar and unfamiliar items may have been overlooked in previous studies. These results suggest that articulatory fluency may have been prematurely excluded as a source of linguistic familiarity effects in short-term memory.