Sixty-five children with specific reading disability (SRD), 25 children with specific language impairment (SLI), and 37 age-matched controls were tested for their frequency discrimination, rapid auditory processing, vowel discrimination, and consonant-vowel discrimination. Subgroups of children with SRD or SLI produced abnormal frequency discrimination (42%), rapid auditory processing (12%), vowel discrimination (23%), or consonant-vowel discrimination (18%) thresholds for their age. Twenty-eight of these children trained on a programme that targeted their specific auditory processing deficit for 6 weeks. Twenty-five of these 28 trainees produced normal thresholds for their targeted processing skill after training. These gains were not explained by gains in auditory attention, in the ability to do psychophysical tasks in general, or by test-retest effects. The 25 successful trainees also produced significantly higher scores on spoken language and spelling tests after training. However, an untrained control group showed test-retest effects on the same tests. These results suggest that auditory processing deficits can be treated successfully in children with SRD and SLI but that this does not help them acquire new reading, spelling, or spoken language skills.