Objective: There is increasing demand in the hearing research community for the creation of laboratory environments that better simulate challenging real-world listening environments. The hope is that the use of such environments for testing will lead to more meaningful assessments of listening ability, and better predictions about the performance of hearing devices. Here we present one approach for simulating a complex acoustic environment in the laboratory, and investigate the effect of transplanting a speech test into such an environment. Design: Speech reception thresholds were measured in a simulated reverberant cafeteria, and in a more typical anechoic laboratory environment containing background speech babble. Study sample: The participants were 46 listeners varying in age and hearing levels, including 25 hearing-aid wearers who were tested with and without their hearing aids. Results: Reliable SRTs were obtained in the complex environment, but led to different estimates of performance and hearing-aid benefit from those measured in the standard environment. Conclusions: The findings provide a starting point for future efforts to increase the real-world relevance of laboratory-based speech tests.