This study compares the form and distribution within layer V of cells projecting to the inferior colliculus with that of commissural cells of origin in adult rat auditory cortex after horseradish peroxidase injections in the ipsilateral inferior colliculus or auditory cortex. The goal of this work was to determine whether every part of layer V participates equally in both projections, and if the cortical neurons in each pathway were similar. The types of neurons were defined in Golgi-Cox preparations and matched with the profiles of retrogradely labeled cells from architectonically defined cortical area 41. Inferior colliculus and commissural neurons form two populations that differ in their distribution in layer V, in somatic area, and in the form of their apical dendritic arbors. Corticocollicular neurons include the largest pyramidal cells, whose robustly filled apical dendrites ascend into layer II or farther. Commissural cells are smaller and have a more heterogeneous form. Their apical dendrites do not usually extend above layer IV, and a few of these cells may be non-pyramidal. Small pyramidal cells and inverted pyramidal cells project to the opposite cortex, but not to the inferior colliculus. Medium-sized pyramidal cells project in both systems. In addition, certain callosal cells of origin in layers V and III were morphologically similar. More than one-third of the commissural cells originate in the superficial part of layer V, where only 7% of the inferior colliculus projection neurons arise. Most corticocollicular cells lie deeper in layer V, where there are fewer commissural neurons. These findings suggest that the efferent systems projecting to telencephalic and mesencephalic targets are morphologically distinct and spatially segregated in layer V. However, the commissural projection includes similar cells in different cortical layers. The types of these efferent neurons may be more closely related to their target than to their laminar origin.