Probably to large for your resources describe your set up.
thanks for your reply.
i'm running mac osx 10.5.8 on a powermac g5, 1.8 ghz w/ 2gb ram, 150gb int. hd and lacie 500gb firewire external drive.
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w/ 2gb ram
Not particularly much. Even if AI itself as a 32bit application never uses more than 2GB, it doesn't have it all on your system. You know, operating system and other stuff taking memory, too.... Quite clearly on a heavy live trace with lots of anchor points and paths this could be too much. If it's an option, you might consider a selective approach, i.e. working at lower image resolutions if something is only a large area or by extracting specific features in Photoshop by turning the image into greyscale/ limited color palette images. while there, you may also use selections and convert them into paths, which you then could copy&paste into AI.