To investigate the role of human fusiform gyrus in shape processing, we determined the effect of shape degradation on BOLD contrast in this region with fMRI during three tasks requiring subjects to determine either whether two successively presented nonsense shapes had the same global orientation (OR task); whether two successively presented meaningful objects belonged to the same basic level category (CAT task); or whether two successively presented objects represented the same exemplar of a category (EX task). On the behavioral level, shape degradation by locally shifting the pixels constituting the lines of stimuli had no effect on performance in the OR task, while it was detrimental to performance in the CAT and EX tasks. In comparison to the OR task, both the CAT and EX tasks were associated with activations in the occipitotemporal and parietal cortex. When shape degradation was applied, activation in the middle fusiform gyrus was reduced in all tasks. The occurrence of this effect in the OR task indicates that it is independent of memory representations. The persistence of the effect in both tasks that showed a behavioral effect of degradation suggests that it does not reflect the amount of shape processing performed on the stimuli, but rather the specificity of the final perceptual representation that can be built from the shape information that is available. Other studies have shown effects of stimulus familiarity and task requirements in the fusiform gyrus, suggesting that there is no need to assume different modules for perceptual representation and representation in memory.