This study examined how different components of working memory are involved in spatial knowledge acquisition for good and poor sense-of-direction (SOD) people. We employed a dual-task method, and asked participants to learn routes from videos with verbal, visual and spatial interference tasks and without any interference. Results showed that participants with a good SOD encoded landmarks and routes verbally and spatially, and integrated knowledge about them into survey knowledge with the support of all three components of working memory. In contrast, participants with a poor SOD encoded landmarks only verbally, and tended to rely on the visual component of working memory in the processing of route knowledge. Based on the results, a possible model for explaining the differences in spatial knowledge acquisition and SOD was proposed. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.