Over the past several decades, an increasing number of empirical studies have documented the interaction of information across the traditional linguistic modules of phonetics, phonology, and lexicon. For example, the frequency with which a word occurs influences its phonetic properties of its sounds; high frequency words tend to be reduced relative to low frequency words. Lexicalist Exemplar Models have been successful in accounting for this body of results through a single mechanism, exemplars- memory representations that integrate lexical, phonological, and phonetic information into a single structure. We review recent studies that suggest there are critical limitations to assuming that phonetic variation solely reflects the storage of word labels and sound structure in exemplars. Specifically, these studies show that factors related to the on-line retrieval and planning of lexical items also influence phonetic variation. The implications of these findings for exemplar models are discussed; the relationship of exemplar storage to the broader cognitive system is examined, as well as alternative theoretical frameworks incorporating gradience at all levels of linguistic representation.