To investigate the presence of the postulated shearing motion in the micromechanics of the inner ear during sound stimulations we measured the vibratory response of the tectorial membrane and the reticular lamina in the third cochlear turn in an isolated temporal bone preparation using confocal laser heterodyne interferometry. The mechanical response of the tectorial membrane had the same frequency of maxima as the underlying reticular lamina, but was not as sharply tuned. When the two-dimensional motion was calculated from measurements made from several viewing angles it was found that the vibration of the reticular lamina had significant components both normal and tangential to its surface. The tectorial membrane motion, however, was primarily in a direction approximately perpendicular to the surface of the reticular lamina. The results indicate that shearing motion is produced predominantly by the radial motion of the reticular lamina.