Several studies have shown that reading development is correlated with measures of alphabetic knowledge. In the present work, we observed that measures of word naming accuracy of beginning French readers were related to knowledge of letter names. We also found that word naming latencies were correlated with letter naming latencies (indexing the automatization of letter-name knowledge). This relation is obtained with an on-line measure of response times and by controlling for general speed factors. Overall, these results suggest that knowledge of letter names plays a critical role at the early stages of reading instruction.