It is well established that rapid automatised naming (RAN) correlates with reading ability. Despite several attempts, no single component process (mediator) has been identified that fully accounts for the correlation. The present paper estimated the explanatory value of several mediators for the RAN–reading correlation. One hundred and sixty-nine preschool students were given measures of RAN and additional measures of phonological awareness, lexical search speed, letter knowledge and paired associate learning. Their reading skills were tested a year later along with speed of processing. The influence of the mediators on the RAN–reading correlation was estimated as indirect effects in mediation analyses. Phonological awareness and letter knowledge significantly mediated the RAN–reading relationship, each accounting for a moderate part of the correlation between RAN and reading fluency. Thus, the RAN–reading correlation was partly, but not fully, accounted for by precursors of reading that are currently known.