Here we present the changes in cortical activity occurring within a few hours after a 1-h exposure to a 120-dB SPL pure tone (5 or 6 kHz). The changes in primary auditory cortex of 16 ketamine-anesthetized cats were assessed by recording, with two 8-microelectrode arrays, from the same multiunit clusters before and after the trauma. The exposure resulted in a peripheral threshold increase that stabilized after a few hours to on average 40 dB in the frequency range of 6-32 kHz, as measured by the auditory brain stem response. The trauma induced a shift in characteristic frequency toward lower frequencies, an emergence of new responses, a broadening of the tuning curve, and an increase in the maximum of driven discharges. In addition, the onset response after the trauma was of shorter duration than before the trauma. The results suggest the involvement of both a decrease and an increase in inhibition. They are discussed in terms of changes in central inhibition and its implications for tonotopic map plasticity.