In a previous paper we demonstrated physiologically a sensitive period for acoustic trauma in the rat pup cochlea, with a maximum at 22 days of age. Seven or 60 days after noise exposure these 22-day exposed rats were used for light and electron microscopy. At 7 days, surface preparation revealed restricted damage to the basal cochlear coil, while with electron microscopy signs of cytoplasmic degeneration appeared in the great majority of basal coil structures. Two months after noise exposure these structures have completely degenerated. These results were discussed in terms of mechanical versus metabolic explanations of the critical period for acoustic trauma.