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We investigate the issue of pseudo noise (PN) code acquisition in single-carrier and multicarrier (MC) direct-sequence code-division multiple-access (DS-CDMA) systems, when the channel is modeled by frequency-selective Nakagami-m (1960) fading. The PN code acquisition performance of single-carrier and MC DS-CDMA systems is analyzed and compared when communicating over Nakagami-m fading channels under the hypothesis of multiple synchronous states (H1 cells) in the uncertainty region of the PN code. In the context of MC DS-CDMA, the code acquisition performance is evaluated, when the correlator outputs of the subcarriers associated with the same phase of the local PN code replica are noncoherently combined by using equal gain combining (EGC) or selection combining (SC) schemes. The performance comparison of the above mentioned schemes shows that the code acquisition performance of the MC DS-CDMA scheme, especially when using the EGC scheme, is more robust, than that of single-carrier DS-CDMA schemes communicating over the multipath Nakagami-m fading channels encountered. However, our code acquisition performance comparison also shows that if the detection threshold was set inappropriately, the performance might be degraded, even if the channel fading becomes less severe.