Mutations of the transmembrane channel-like 1 (TMC1) gene can cause dominant and recessive forms of deafness in humans and mice. TMC1 is one of eight mammalian TMC genes of unknown function. The multi-pass transmembrane topologic structure of the proteins they encode suggests roles as a receptor, transporter, channel, or pump. Tmc1 and the closely related Tmc2 gene are expressed in neurosensory hair cells of the auditory and vestibular end organs of the mouse inner ear. Recent studies have demonstrated that Tmc1 and Tmc2 are specifically required for mechanoelectrical transduction in hair cells. The exact role of these proteins in mechanoelectrical transduction is unknown. TMC1 and TMC2 are viable candidates for the mechanoelectrical transduction channel of hair cells, whose component molecules have eluded identification for over 30 years. We expect that studies of TMC proteins will yield insights into molecular components and mechanisms of mechanosensation in auditory and vestibular hair cells, as well as in other tissues and organs.