Shaker-1 is a recessive gene mutation on chromosome 7 in mice, causing both deafness and neurosensory degeneration in the inner ear. A failure of efferent innervation to the outer hair cells is being implicated in the cause of deafness (Green, 1981). To investigate the efferent innervation, we examined the cochleas of two strains of shaker-1 mutants: Sh1/Le (25 and 45 days old) and FS/Ei (28 and 68 days old), using enzymatic staining of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) for the light and electron microscopes, and also by measuring the activities of AChE and of AChE molecular forms. The enzyme levels in the SH1/Le and FS/Ei homozygotes (sh-1/sh-1) were within the range of those in SH1/Le heterozygotes (+/sh-1) and in normal mouse strains (C3H/HeJ, 129/SvJ, ICR). The picture of AChE-positive innervation in both strains differed. In the SH1/Le mutants at 25 days, the innervation appeared normal, but by 45 days it showed a marked atrophy. In the FS/Ei mutants, the degeneration was already evident by the 28th day. In the younger animals of both mutants, large differentiated vesiculated nerve endings were ultrastructurally detected in synaptic contact with outer hair cells. The preservation of AChE activity and of the expression of AChE molecular forms up to 68 days indicate that the shaker-1 cochlea may initially possess a normal input of AChE-positive efferent innervation. The late onset and the slow course of the degeneration of AChE-positive innervation seen in the SH1/Le mutants suggest that the loss of efferent endings may be, contrary to previous suggestions, the consequence rather than the cause of the shaker-1 pathology.