Frequency tuning of auditory cortical neurons is typically determined by integrating spikes over the entire duration of a tone stimulus. However, this approach may mask functionally significant variations in tuning over the time course of the response. To explore this possibility, frequency response functions (FRFs) based on population multiunit activity evoked by pure tones of 175 or 200 ms duration were examined within four time windows relative to stimulus onset corresponding to "on" (10-30 ms), "early sustained" (30-100 ms), "late sustained" (100-175 ms), and "off" (185-235 or 210-260 ms) portions of responses in primary auditory cortex (A1) of 5 awake macaques. FRFs of "on" and "early sustained" responses displayed a good concordance, with best frequencies (BFs) differing, on average, by less than 0.25 octaves. In contrast, FRFs of "on" and "late sustained" responses differed considerably, with a mean difference in BF of 0.68 octaves. At many sites, tuning of "off" responses was inversely related to that of "on" responses, with "off" FRFs displaying a trough at the BF of "on" responses. Inversely correlated "on" and "off" FRFs were more common at sites with a higher "on" BF, thus suggesting functional differences between sites with low and high "on" BF. These results indicate that frequency tuning of population responses in A1 may vary considerably over the course of the response to a tone, thus revealing a temporal dimension to the representation of sound spectrum in A1.