BACKGROUND: The relationship between phoneme awareness, rapid automatized naming (RAN), verbal short-term/working memory (ST/WM) and diagnostic category is investigated in control and dyslexic children, and the extent to which this depends on orthographic complexity. METHODS: General cognitive, phonological and literacy skills were tested in 1,138 control and 1,114 dyslexic children speaking six different languages spanning a large range of orthographic complexity (Finnish, Hungarian, German, Dutch, French, English). RESULTS: Phoneme deletion and RAN were strong concurrent predictors of developmental dyslexia, while verbal ST/WM and general verbal abilities played a comparatively minor role. In logistic regression models, more participants were classified correctly when orthography was more complex. The impact of phoneme deletion and RAN-digits was stronger in complex than in less complex orthographies. CONCLUSIONS: Findings are largely consistent with the literature on predictors of dyslexia and literacy skills, while uniquely demonstrating how orthographic complexity exacerbates some symptoms of dyslexia.