In this study we explored the temporal origin of processing differences between first and second language production. Forty highly proficient bilinguals named objects of high and low lexical frequency aloud for both L1 and L2 separately while event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were recorded. The first electrophysiological differences elicited by response language occurred at the same early P2 peak (similar to 140-220 ms) where we observed the onset of the lexical frequency effect, but only for those bilinguals who started naming in an L1 context and afterwards switched to an L2 naming context. The bilinguals who named objects in the reverse direction did not display a language effect in the ERPs. Taken together, the data show that the L2 naming disadvantage originates during the onset of lexical access and seems to be driven by both representational strength, which is lower for L2 words, and language control demands, which are higher for L2 words. (C) 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.