Two experiments explored the taxonomic organization of mental lexicons in deaf and hearing college students. Experiment 1 used a single-word association task to examine relations between categories and their members. Results indicated that both groups' lexical knowledge is similar in terms of overall organization, with associations between category names and exemplars stronger for hearing students; only the deaf students showed asymmetrical exemplar-category relations. Experiment 2 used verbal analogies to explore the application of taxonomic knowledge in an academically relevant task. Significant differences between deaf and hearing students were obtained for six types of analogies, although deaf students who were better readers displayed response patterns more like hearing students'. Hearing students' responses reflected their lexical organization; deaf students' did not. These findings implicate the interaction of word knowledge, world knowledge, and literacy skills, emphasizing the need to adapt instructional methods to student knowledge in educational contexts.