Studies on bilingual word reading and translation have examined the effects of lexical variables (e.g., concreteness, cognate status) by comparing groups of non-translators with varying levels of L2 proficiency. However, little attention has been paid to another relevant factor: translation expertise (TI). To explore this issue, we administered word reading and translation tasks to two groups of non-translators possessing different levels of informal TI (Experiment 1), and to three groups of bilinguals possessing different levels of translation training (Experiment 2). Reaction-time recordings showed that in all groups reading was faster than translation and unaffected by concreteness and cognate effects. Conversely, in both experiments, all groups translated concrete and cognate words faster than abstract and non-cognate words, respectively. Notably, an advantage of backward over forward translation was observed only for low-proficiency non-translators (in Experiment 1). Also, in Experiment 2, the modifications induced by translation expertise were more marked in the early than in the late stages of training and practice. The results suggest that TI contributes to modulating inter-equivalent connections in bilingual memory.