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Summary form only given. We have demonstrated the use of periodically poled LiNbO/sub 3/ as a practical diode-pumped parametric gain medium for ultrashort pulse amplification. The essential advantage is that a high single-pass gain is achievable without the need for regenerative or multiple-pass amplification. Uniquely, such an amplifier has engineerable optical properties, which potentially can provide extremely broad gain bandwidths suitable for amplification of few femtosecond pulses.