Recent results have shown that listeners attending to the quieter of two speech signals in one ear (the target ear) are highly susceptible to interference from normal or time-reversed speech signals presented in the unattended ear. However, speech-shaped noise signals have little impact on the segregation of speech in the opposite ear. This suggests that there is a fundamental difference between the across-ear interference effects of speech and nonspeech signals. In this experiment, the intelligibility and contralateral-ear masking characteristics of three synthetic speech signals with parametrically adjustable speech-like properties were examined: (1) a modulated noise-band (MNB) speech signal composed of fixed-frequency bands of envelope-modulated noise; (2) a modulated sine-band (MSB) speech signal composed of fixed-frequency amplitude-modulated sinewaves; and (3) a "sinewave speech" signal composed of sine waves tracking the first four formants of speech. In all three cases, a systematic decrease in performance in the two-talker target-ear listening task was found as the number of bands in the contralateral speech-like masker increased. These results suggest that speech-like fluctuations in the spectral envelope of a signal play an important role in determining the amount of across-ear interference that a signal will produce in a dichotic cocktail-party listening task.