Previous studies of memory in autism spectrum conditions (ASC) have consistently shown that persons with ASC have reduced memories for social information, relative to a spared memory for non-social facts. The current study aims to reproduce these findings, while examining the possible causes leading to this difference. Participants’ memory for trait-words was tested after they had viewed the words in three study contexts: visuo-motor, letter-detection, and social judgment. While participants with ASC showed a levels-of-processing effect, such that their memory for words viewed in the social judgment context was greater than their memory for words viewed in the letter-detection context, their memory for socially-processed words was reduced relative to comparison participants. This interaction effect could not be explained by a speed/accuracy trade-off, nor could it be explained solely by differences in encoding. These results suggest that social memory deficits in ASC arise from difficulties both in orienting towards and encoding social content, as well as retaining and retrieving it. Implications for theory and clinical practice are discussed.