This paper presents a study of the effect of working memory load on the interpretation of pronouns in different discourse contexts: stories with and without a topic shift. We discuss a computational model (in ACT-R, Anderson, 2007) to explain how referring expressions are acquired and used. On the basis of simulations of this model, it is predicted that WM constraints only affect adults' pronoun resolution in stories with a topic shift, but not in stories without a topic shift. This latter prediction was tested in an experiment. The results of this experiment confirm that WM load reduces adults' sensitivity to discourse cues signaling a topic shift, thus influencing their interpretation of subsequent pronouns.