Abstract The nonlinear interaction between the unidirectional bichromatic wave-train and exponentially sheared currents in water of an infinite depth is investigated. The model is based on the vorticity transport equation and the exact free surface conditions, without any assumptions for the existence of small physical parameters. Earlier works of the wave–current interaction were mainly restricted to either currents acted on the monochromatic wave or irregular waves limited to irrotational currents. Different from these previous works, no constraint is made in our model for amplitudes of the primary wave, and the current owns an exponential type profile along the vertical line. To ensure that the effect of vorticity on the phase velocity is consistent with earlier derivation, the case of a small amplitude wave traveling on the exponentially sheared current is examined firstly. Then the effect of nonlinearity on the phase velocity of primary waves in a bichromatic wave-train is considered. Accurate high-order approximations of the phase velocity are obtained under consideration of both the nonlinear wave self–self and mutual interactions. Finally, the combined effect of vorticity and nonlinearity on the phase velocity is investigated through the case of a bichromatic wave-train propagating on an exponentially sheared current. It is found that the characteristic current slope determines the effect of vorticity on the phase velocity caused by nonlinear wave self–self and mutual interactions, and the surface current strength may amplify/reduce this effect.