This paper reviews a series of studies on the effects of accent on second language listening comprehension (L2 LC). It is shown that some of the studies have been misinterpreted as indicating the existence of an own, or local, accent advantage in L2 listening. From the review, it is clear that there is insufficient evidence to support such conclusions. Given previous research findings and current state of knowledge concerning the LC process, it is hypothesised that different but familiar accents should cause no problems for L2 listeners. This hypothesis is tested in an experiment featuring 63 Hong Kong school students. The results support the hypothesis. From the findings, it is argued that degree of familiarity is the crucial issue with regard to whether a particular accent causes LC problems for L2 listeners to English. In contrast, whether or not a speaker's accent is similar to the listener's is a secondary issue, which is important only in so far as it relates to the issue of familiarity. Copyright © 1997 Sage Publications.