Three perceptual experiments were conducted to test the relative importance of vowels versus consonants to recognition of fluent speech. Sentences were selected from the TIMIT corpus to obtain approximately equal numbers of vowels and consonants within each sentence and equal durations across the set of sentences. In experiments 1 and 2, subjects listened to (a) unaltered TIMIT sentences, (b) sentences in which all of the vowels were replaced by noise, or (c) sentences in which all of the consonants were replaced by noise. The subjects listened to each sentence five times, and attempted to transcribe what they heard. The results of these experiments show that recognition of words depends more upon vowels than consonants---about twice as many words are recognized when vowels are retained in the speech. The effect was observed when occurrences of [l], [r], [w], [y] [m], and [n] were included in the sentences (experiment 1) or replaced by noise (experiment 2). Experiment 3 tested the hypothesis that vowel boundaries contain more information about the neighboring consonants than vice versa.