Abstract Temporal response patterns of single auditory nerve fibers were used to characterize the effects of a common hearing-aid processing scheme, frequency-shaped amplification, on the encoding of the vowel /ε/ in cats with a permanent noise-induced hearing loss. These responses were contrasted with responses to unmodified stimuli in control and impaired cats. Noise-induced hearing loss leads to a degraded representation of the formant frequencies, in which strong phase locking to the formants is not observed in fibers with best frequencies (BFs) near the formants and there is a wide spread of formant phase locking to fibers with higher BFs ( Miller et al. 1997a, b). Frequency shaping effectively limits the upward spread of locking to F1, which improves the representation of higher frequency components of the vowel. However, it also increases phase locking to harmonics in the trough between the formants, which decreases the contrast between F1 and the trough in the neural representation. Moreover, it does not prevent the spread to higher BFs of responses to the second and third formants. The results show a beneficial effect of frequency shaping, but also show that interactions between particular gain functions and particular spectral shapes can result in unwanted distortions of the neural representation of the signal.