The study of two-digit numbers processing has recently gathered a growing interest. Here, we examine whether differences at encoding of two-digit oral verbal numerals induce differences in the type of processing involved. Twenty-four participants were submitted to a comparison task to 55. Differences at encoding were introduced by the use of dichotic listening and synchronous (synchronous condition) or asynchronous presentation (tens-first and units-first conditions) of the two-digit numerals' components. Our results showed that differences at the encoding stage of two-digit numerals involve: (1) different comparison processes (tens-first and units-first conditions: parallel comparison; synchronous condition: parallel and holistic comparison); and (2) differences in the weight of the tens-and units-effects. Therefore, attentional mechanisms determining at the encoding stage how much attention is paid to the two-digit numerals' components might account for the different types of processing found with two-digit numbers. © 2010 Psychology Press.