This paper investigates the two-way relationship between R&D and export activity. In particular, we concern ourselves with the question whether R&D stimulates exports and, perhaps more importantly, whether export activity leads to increasing innovative activity in terms of R&D (learning by exporting). We use two unique firm level databases for Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland and compare the results for these two countries. We find that previous exporting experience enhances the innovative capability of Irish firms. Conversely, no strong learning-by-exporting effects are found for British firms. Arguably part of the differences between Ireland and Britain are attributable to different, cross-country exporting patterns where Irish firms have a greater interface with OECD markets.