We tested categorical perception and speech-in-noise perception in a group of five-year-old preschool children genetically at risk for dyslexia, compared to a group of well-matched control children and a group of adults. Both groups of children differed significantly from the adults on all speech measures. Comparing both child groups, the risk group presented a slight but significant deficit in speech-in-noise perception, particularly in the most difficult listening condition. For categorical perception a marginally significant deficit was observed on the discrimination task but not on the identification task. Speech parameters were significantly related to phonological awareness and low-level auditory measures. Results are discussed within the framework of a causal model where low-level auditory problems are hypothesized to result in subtle speech perception problems that might interfere with the development of phonology and reading and spelling ability. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.