Otoacoustic emissions measured in the external ear canal describe responses that the cochlea generates in the form of acoustic energy. For the convenience of discussing their principal features, emitted responses can be classified into several categories according to the type of stimulation used to evoke them. On this basis, four distinct but interrelated classes can be distinguished including spontaneous, transiently evoked, stimulus-frequency, and distortion-product otoacoustic emissions. The present review details the findings that have been described for each emission type according to this classification schema. Additionally, the known features of emitted responses are discussed for both normally hearing and hearing-impaired humans and experimental animals, and with respect to their potential clinical applications. The findings reviewed here clearly indicate that future studies of otoacoustic emissions will significantly increase our understanding of the basic mechanisms of cochlear function while, at the same time, provide a new and important clinical tool.