It is commonly known that the left hemisphere of the brain is more efficient in the processing of verbal information, compared to the right hemisphere. One proposal suggests that hemispheric asymmetries in verbal processing are due in part to the efficient use of top-down mechanisms by the left hemisphere. Most evidence for this comes from hemispheric semantic priming, though fewer studies have investigated verbal memory in the cerebral hemispheres. The goal of the current investigations is to examine how top-down mechanisms influence hemispheric asymmetries in verbal memory, and determine the specific nature of hypothesized top-down mechanisms. Five experiments were conducted to explore the influence of top-down mechanisms on hemispheric asymmetries in verbal memory. Experiments 1 and 2 used item-method directed forgetting to examine maintenance and inhibition mechanisms. In Experiment 1, participants were cued to remember or forget certain words, and cues were presented simultaneously or after the presentation of target words. In Experiment 2, participants were cued again to remember or forget words, but each word was repeated once or four times. Experiments 3 and 4 examined the influence of cognitive load on hemispheric asymmetries in true and false memory. In Experiment 3, cognitive load was imposed during memory encoding, while in Experiment 4, cognitive load was imposed during memory retrieval. Finally, Experiment 5 investigated the association between controlled processing in hemispheric semantic priming, and top-down mechanisms used for hemispheric verbal memory. Across all experiments, divided visual field presentation was used to probe verbal memory in the cerebral hemispheres. Results from all experiments revealed several important findings. First, top-down mechanisms used by the LH primarily used to facilitate verbal processing, but also operate in a domain general manner in the face of increasing processing demands. Second, evidence indicates that the RH uses top-down mechanisms minimally, and processes verbal information in a more bottom-up manner. These data help clarify the nature of top-down mechanisms used in hemispheric memory and language processing, and build upon current theories that attempt to explain hemispheric asymmetries in language processing.