Objective: Amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is characterized by memory impairment with preserved daily functioning (Petersen, 2004). Individuals with MCI show poor encoding and retention of new information. Little research has investigated the relationship between memory performance and encoding strategy in MCI. Our objective was to investigate strategy use between MCI and healthy aging (NCI) on a common verbal memory test. Method: Thirty-two MCI and 103 NCI cases were drawn from a population-based study. Measures of semantic, serial, and subjective clustering were derived from performance on the California Verbal Learning Test- II. Independent t-tests were used to assess for differences in strategy usage between groups. Correlations between clustering measures and recall measures were used to investigate the relationship between strategy use and memory. Results: The MCI group showed significantly less semantic clustering than the NCI group (t = 3.57, p < 0.001) although no group differences were found for serial or subjective clustering. Correlations showed that increased use of semantic and subjective clustering was associated with better immediate (semantic: r = .42, p < 0.001; subjective: r = .50, p < 0.001) and delayed (semantic: r = .35, p < 0.001; subjective: r = .22, p < 0.001) recall in NCI while increased use of subjective clustering was associated with better immediate (r = 0.42, p < 0.001) recall in MCI. Serial clustering was not associated with memory performance in either group. Conclusion: Results suggest that the ability to semantically cluster items in verbal memory may be compromised in MCI, possibly due to disruptions in semantic networks. Results also suggest that use of subjective clustering may support immediate but not delayed recall in MCI, implying that encoding strategies may have limited benefit on retention.