The technique of principal-component analysis was used to define anatomically the semicircular canal planes of the rhesus and squirrel monkeys with respect to the stereotaxic coordinate system. The analyses were performed on a series of points obtained from the dissected osseous labyrinths. A planar equation was defined for each canal plane in the stereotaxic coordinate system and angles were calculated between the 3 ipsilateral canal planes, between synergistic canal pairs and between each canal plane and the stereotaxic planes. The data from both species are similar: the ipsilateral canal planes are nearly orthogonal; synergistic pairs of canal planes are approximately parallel with angles of 2 degrees-12 degrees between pairs in the rhesus monkey and 13 degrees-16 degrees between pairs in the squirrel monkey. The horizontal canal planes form angles of 22 degrees and 18 degrees with the horizontal stereotaxic plane in the rhesus and squirrel monkeys, respectively. A head position of 15 degrees (pitch nose-down) was calculated to produce an optimal head position in both species for maximally stimulating the horizontal canals and minimally stimulating the vertical canals during horizontal angular acceleration. The radii of curvature (R) of the horizontal, anterior and posterior canals were also measured for both species using a calibrated reticle. These measurements indicate that the anterior canal of both species has the largest radius of curvature. This anatomical information is discussed in relation to the available physiological data.