The amount of melanin pigmentation in the inner ear is positively correlated with the general pigmentation of the body and specifically with the amount of pigment in the eye. The misrouting of retinofugal projections which accompanies ocular and oculocutaneous albinism has been thought to be a defect in decussation unique to the visual system. Evidence suggests that functional abnormalities may also exist in the auditory systems of albino humans and animals. To evaluate this possibility, evoked potential techniques were used to examine the functional anatomy of decussating brainstem auditory pathways in albino and pigmented cats. Auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) were recorded from albino, pigmented, and Siamese cats using monaural stimulation. ABRs were recorded ipsilateral and contralateral to the stimulated ear. The albinos were complete tyrosinase-negative (cc), not the dominant white (W) variety associated with deafness. In pigmented cats, the amplitudes of ABRs recorded with the reference electrode ipsilateral to the stimulated ear and the ABRs recorded using the reference contralateral to the stimulated ear did not differ by more than 40% for individual components appearing between 2 and 4 ms after stimulus onset. In albino cats the components at these latencies were obliterated or greatly attenuated in the ABR recorded using the reference contralateral to the stimulated ear. These data indicate that anomalies may exist in the brainstem at the level of the acoustic striae, superior olivary nuclei and/or trapezoid body in tyrosinase-negative albino cats.