A stimulus trace may be temporarily retained either actively [i.e., in working memory (WM)] or by the weaker mnemonic process we will call passive short-term memory, in which a given stimulus trace is highly susceptible to "overwriting" by a subsequent stimulus. It has been suggested that WM is the more robust process because it exploits long-term memory (i.e., a current stimulus activates a stored representation of that stimulus, which can then be actively maintained). Recent studies have suggested that monkeys may be unable to store acoustic signals in long-term memory, raising the possibility that they may therefore also lack auditory WM. To explore this possibility, we tested rhesus monkeys on a serial delayed match-to-sample (DMS) task using a small set of sounds presented with ∼1-s interstimulus delays. Performance was accurate whenever a match or a nonmatch stimulus followed the sample directly, but it fell precipitously if a single nonmatch stimulus intervened between sample and match. The steep drop in accuracy was found to be due not to passive decay of the sample's trace, but to retroactive interference from the intervening nonmatch stimulus. This "overwriting" effect was far greater than that observed previously in serial DMS with visual stimuli. The results, which accord with the notion that WM relies on long-term memory, indicate that monkeys perform serial DMS in audition remarkably poorly and that whatever success they had on this task depended largely, if not entirely, on the retention of stimulus traces in the passive form of short-term memory.