Previous studies have shown that infant-directed speech (‘motherese’) exhibits overemphasized acoustic properties which may facilitate the acquisition of phonetic categories by infant learners. It has been suggested that the use of infant-directed data for training automatic speech recognition systems might also enhance the automatic learning and discrimination of phonetic categories. This study investigates the properties of infant-directed vs. adult-directed speech from the point of view of the statistical pattern recognition paradigm underlying automatic speech recognition. Isolated-word speech recognizers were trained on adult-directed vs. infant-directed data sets and were tested on both matched and mismatched data. Results show that recognizers trained on infant-directed speech did not always exhibit better recognition performance; however, their relative loss in performance on mismatched data was significantly less severe than that of recognizers trained on adult-directed speech and presented with infant-directed test data. An analysis of the statistical distributions of a subset of phonetic classes in both data sets showed that this pattern is caused by larger class overlaps in infant-directed speech. This finding has implications for both automatic speech recognition and theories of infant speech perception. © 2005 Acoustical Society of America.