Ototoxicity of topically applied gentamicin was studied in guinea pigs. 0.3% gentamicin was instilled in one side of the middle ear cavity and Ringer's solution was instilled in the other side, and the difference in the cochlear microphonics measured with the round window electrode was analysed statistically. Instillation of Ringer's solution in the middle ear cavity for 1 day did not cause any significant sensorineural hearing loss, but on the 3rd day of instillation significantly reduced responses were observed, compared with the responses from non-treated ears, followed by a partial recovery starting on the 4th day. When gentamicin 0.3% was instilled into the middle ear cavity, significant deafness occurred 24 hours later, and highly significant deafness on the 2nd and 3rd day. The usage of gentamicin ear drops of the current formula should be discouraged until a better formula is provided.