Phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) is a tumor suppressor gene that controls neural stem cell renewal and differentiation and is a potential target for regeneration in the optic nerve. Here we show that it has a critical pattern of expression in the mammalian developing auditory system. PTEN was expressed in the cochlear-vestibular ganglion at embryonic day 10.5 and then progressively in hair cells as they differentiated from the base to the apex of the cochlea. By postnatal day 7, PTEN was downregulated in hair cells and subsequently in the neurons. This very specific, transient expression pattern suggests that PTEN plays a crucial role in the differentiation of the sensory neurons and hair cells and that it is a potential therapeutic target for hearing regeneration.