The ahl locus, shown to be a strain-specific Cdh23 dimorphism, contributes to age-related hearing loss in many inbred mouse strains. A/J mice begin to lose hearing by 4 weeks of age, much earlier than C57BL/6J (B6) mice, although both strains have the same Cdh23(ahl) variant. Here, we use recombinant inbred strains, chromosome substitution strains, and a linkage backcross to map a locus on distal Chromosome 10, designated ahl4, that contributes to the early-onset hearing loss of A/J mice. Cochleae of 9-week-old A/J mice exhibit inner and outer hair cell loss from the basal turn through the apical turn, with outer hair cell loss at the base being severest. To quantify the progression of hair cell loss, cytocochleograms were evaluated from 0 to 20 weeks of age. A/J mice showed evidence of hair cell loss in the base of the cochlea as early as 14 days of age and the magnitude and extent of loss increased rapidly during the following 2-5 months. Hair cell loss occurred earlier and was much more severe and widespread in A/J mice than in B6 mice during the first 5 months of age. Spiral ganglion neurons, cells of the stria vascularis, and vestibular hair cell densities, however, appeared normal in 20-week-old A/J mice.