In two experiments, pictorial cues were compared with their verbal labels to assess their effectiveness in eliciting involuntary autobiographical memories. Cues were relatively complex in Experiment 1 (e.g., relaxing on a beach) and simple objects in Experiment 2 (e.g., a ball). In both experiments, participants went through a vigilance task in which they were presented with frequent nontarget and rare target visual stimuli. Pictures or their corresponding verbal labels were also displayed on both target and nontarget stimuli, but participants were told that these were irrelevant to the task. They were asked to interrupt the vigilance task whenever they became aware of task-unrelated mental contents and to report them. In both experiments, more involuntary memories were elicited in the verbal cue condition, rather than in the pictorial cue condition. This result is discussed in relation to previous work that highlighted the greater effectiveness of verbal cues in memory tasks.