A heterodyne laser interferometer was used to observe the movements of small (approximately 20 microns) stainless-steel beads placed on the basilar membrane in the hook region of cat and guinea-pig cochleae. In several preparations, the displacement patterns observed exhibited sharp nonlinear tuning; in one cat this tuning was comparable to that commonly observed in single auditory-nerve fibers. The most sensitive frequencies of the preparations ranged from 31-40 kHz in the cat, and 28-32 kHz in the guinea-pig. The sharp tuning and nonlinearity of the basilar membrane responses was not apparent in surgically or acoustically traumatized preparations. The response nonlinearities were susceptible to temporary threshold shifts and disappeared within a few minutes post-mortem. Stimulus-related shifts in the baseline position of the basilar membrane were not apparent at low stimulus levels. Such shifts were occasionally observed at higher stimulus levels (e.g., > 90 dB SPL), but never approached the fundamental (oscillatory) component of basilar membrane vibration in magnitude. These findings are discussed in relation to previous observations by other workers.