This article investigates whether the Aspect-before-Tense Hypothesis (Antinucci and Miller, 1976; Shirai and Andersen, 1995) accounts for the acquisition of tense-aspect morphology in child L2 English. The main question addressed is whether early uses of tense-aspect inflections can be analyzed as a spell-out of semantic/aspectual features of verbs (such as punctuality, telicity, durativity, etc.). The data are drawn from a detailed longitudinal study of an eight-year-old Russian-speaking child who was acquiring English as L2 in the USA. It is first shown that the emergence of tense-aspect morphology patterns by aspectual verb class. However, contrary to the Aspect-before-Tense Hypothesis, it is argued that the acquisition patterns cannot be attributed to “defective” tense, nor do they reflect the spell-out of aspectual features. A new approach to the data is developed that proposes underspecification of the syntactic aspectual head in early L2 child grammar.