There has been growing scholarly interest in the relationship between high-performance work systems and firm performance. Yet, limited research attention has been given to the impact of high-performance work systems on firm performance during skills shortages. In this study, we empirically examine the influence of high-performance work systems on firm performance in the midst of skills shortages. Results from a study of 211 US firms with 50 or more employees demonstrate that internal skills shortages are not related to firm profitability. Findings further show that the use of high-performance work systems is more detrimental to firm performance for firms when they face an internal skills shortage. These results are discussed and future research directions are offered.