Spiral ganglion cells in the cochleas of Sprague-Dawley rats in various age groups were counted in order to assess the extent and location of cell degeneration with age. Cells in every tenth section of serially sectioned plastic embedded cochleas were counted in the light microscope. The median cell number for the 1- to 2-month-old animals was 15,800 cells. This number was first seen to be significantly reduced (-14%) in the 23-month-old animals. At 27 to 29 months the ganglion cell number was reduced by 20%, while at 33 to 34 months there was a 17% loss. Losses were found throughout the length of the ganglion with the greatest losses at the lower basal and apical ends. In the oldest group, these losses amounted to 28% and 33%, respectively. Type II ganglion cells first showed a significant decrease in number in the 27- to 29-month-old group, when a 32% loss was seen. The same loss was seen in the 33- to 34-month-old group. Unlike the type I cells which are lost throughout the length of the ganglion, type II cells were not significantly reduced in number at the basal end, but decreased by as much as 42% in the middle and apical regions.