the purpose of this study was to investigate iranian efl learners’ beliefs about the role of rote learning (rl) in vocabulary learning strategies; besides, the study examined if english proficiency would influence learners’ vocabulary learning strategy use. this study addresses the need for a clear understanding of the role of rl in efl vocabulary learning by looking at iranian efl learners’ own beliefs. the participants of the study consisted of 25 freshmen and 25 senior in the english department of the university of isfahan. three instruments were used to collect the needed data, i.e., a vocabulary learning strategy questionnaire, a vocabulary test, and think aloud protocol. after taking the vocabulary learning questionnaire, out of each proficiency group, three participants were randomly asked to take part in think-aloud sessions. the results indicated that iranian efl learners used rote learning strategies more frequently than other categories of memory strategy and applying images and sound the least frequently. however, quantitative data and think-aloud revealed that there were some differences between high-proficient and low-proficient learners regarding the order of other categories of memory strategy and the way they used these strategies. the triangulation of the data showed no relationship between the learners’ beliefs about rote learning and their achievement in vocabulary test. overall, the findings of this study imply the need for classroom pedagogy to explicitly integrate strategy instruction and some changes for vocabulary testing.