Notch signaling inhibits hair cell differentiation, based on studies on mice deficient in Notch signaling-related genes and its downstream genes. However, the precise mechanisms of this inhibition are unknown because it is difficult to control the timing and duration of the suppression of Notch signaling. Here, we developed a novel in vitro culture and analysis method for mouse fetal cochleae and examined the roles of Notch signaling by its reversible inhibition through the use of Notch signaling inhibitors of gamma-secretase and TNF-alpha-converting enzyme. Notch inhibition with Notch signaling inhibitor treatment increases the number of cochlear hair cells, as observed in gene deletion experiments. We elucidated that this increase is regulated by the dichotomy between hair cells and supporting cells from common progenitors. We also propose other roles of Notch signaling in cochlear development. First, Notch signaling arrests the cell cycle of the cochlear epithelium containing putative hair cells and supporting cell progenitors because Notch inhibition with inhibitor treatment increases the number of 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU)-positive cells that can differentiate into hair cells or supporting cells. Second, Notch signaling is required for the induction of Prox1-positive supporting cells. Third, Notch signaling is required for the maintenance of supporting cells.