Hearing loss (HL) was prospectively studied in 236 children with meningitis using brainstem auditory evoked responses. Hearing loss was detected in 38 (16.1%) in the acute phase of the disease and in 10 (5.2%) of 193 patients who were tested 6 months later. Hearing loss was more frequent and more severe in patients with bacterial meningitis (25.4% in the acute phase, and 8% 6 months later) than in patients with viral and tuberculous meningitis. In half of the affected cases the auditory lesion was bilateral. Follow-up was possible in 32 patients with early postmeningitic HL. Ten (31.2%) had permanent HL while the remaining 22 (68.7%) recovered normal hearing. Severe initial losses tended to be permanent, whereas minimal and intermediate losses were generally reversible and patients recovered completely in 1 to 6 months. The high incidence of HL in bacterial meningitis suggests that any one of the existing methods of auditory screening should be performed in all patients during the convalescent period.