A comparative study of the phase-locked response of auditory nerve fibers was performed in two frog species, Eleutherodactylus coqui and Bombina orientalis. From the tuning characteristics and phase response of single auditory nerve fibers to low frequency tones (0.08-1.0 kHz) we attempt to deduce the mechanics of the auditory organ responsible for low-frequency hearing in the frog, the amphibian papilla (a.p.). The phase-locked responses of auditory nerve fibers in B. orientalis were essentially identical to those from cells with similar CFs in E. coqui, despite the presence of a conspicuous caudal extension of the a.p. in E. coqui (an apparently derived morphology), a feature completely absent in B. orientalis. The fine structure of the frequency-dependent phase behavior was examined in both species with a residual phase analysis. The most significant non-linear phase behavior was confined to neurons with CFs less than 0.3 kHz. The intensity dependence of the phase response in E. coqui revealed that the preferred firing phase of an auditory nerve fiber depends upon the relation of test frequency (TF) and CF of the neuron examined. For TFs greater than CF there was a progressive phase lag as stimulus level was increased; the inverse was true for TFs less than CF. Click latencies measured in E. coqui were inversely related to CF and were similar though systematically shorter than the response latencies estimated from the phase-frequency functions. The click response was similar to that documented in other species, showing a significant level dependence and the presence of multiple peaks, with the time between peaks related to the period of the neuron's CF. A 'neurogram' was compiled for a.p. fiber responses in both species in response to several pure tones. Based on the known tonotopy of the a.p. this measure reflects the phase response of the a.p. over the extent of its length. The population phase response in anurans is quite similar to that obtained from mammalian auditory nerve fibers for the same range of test frequencies (0.08-1.0 kHz). The similarity between the responses of auditory fibers in these two anuran species suggests the micromechanics of the a.p. rostral to the tectorial curtain is similar in both species and that it is the likely site for the origin of the CF-dependent time delays.