The acoustic frequency selectivity of over 500 saccular nerve fibers of the goldfish was studied using automated threshold tracking based on spike rate increments defined statistically. Saccular fibers of the goldfish show great variation in (1) best sensitivity (-26 to + 35 dB re: 1 dyn/cm2), (2) best frequency (below 100 to 1770 Hz), (3) spontaneous rate (0 to over 200 spikes/s), (4) spontaneous type (silent, regular, irregular, burst), and (5) degree of tuning (Q 10 dB from less than 0.1 to 2). Saccular fibers may be grouped into four nonoverlapping categories based on tuning and best frequency: (1) untuned (less than 10-dB variation in sensitivity between 100 and 1000 Hz), (2) low frequency (BF from below 120 to 290 Hz), (3) midfrequency (BF between 330 and 670 Hz), and (4) high frequency (BF between 790 and 1770 Hz). Within each category, all spontaneous rates and types, and all degrees of tuning can be observed. The least sensitive fibers within each group have zero spontaneous rates. The goldfish is like all other vertebrates studied in that the peripheral auditory system is adapted for frequency selectivity throughout the animal's entire frequency range of hearing. Peripheral tuning most likely accounts for behavioral determinations of the "auditory filter" and for the detectability of signals masked by noise. The signal-to-noise ratio enhancement provided by these peripheral filters is likely to be of primary biological significance. A "place principle" of sound quality analysis based on lines "labeled" according to best frequency in the brain cannot be ruled out on the basis of the peripheral physiology.