Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) which is sudden in onset, fluctuating, and/or progressive complicates medical management, hearing aid selection, and individualized educational planning for a hearing-impaired child. In spite of multidisciplinary evaluation and intervention, a gradual decrease in auditory acuity may continue unabated in a significant number of cases. Intercurrent middle ear disease and inconsistent audiologic technique can account for threshold variation in some cases. The study population consisted of 229 children (132 boys; 97 girls) aged 1 to 19.9 years at first audiogram which revealed at least a mild degree of sensorineural hearing loss in one or both ears (35 unilateral), and who demonstrated threshold variation of 10 dB or more in at least one ear at one or more of the standard audiometric test frequencies (250, 500, 1000, 2000, 4000, and 8000 Hz) and were without concurrent middle ear disease (mean length of follow-up, 4.9 years; mean number of audiograms, 10.3). Of 365 ears demonstrating threshold variation of 10 dB or more, 22 (6%) had purely progressive losses without intercurrent upward fluctuation, 208 (57%) had fluctuating thresholds with gradually progressive losses, and 135 (37%) had intermittent threshold fluctuation without permanent deterioration. The probability of contralateral threshold fluctuation if one ear fluctuated was 0.91, while the probability of contralateral progressive SNHL if one ear progressed was 0.67. Demographic data, presumptive etiology, degree of initial SNHL, audiometric configuration, and symmetry of threshold variation were considered as potential predictors of the likelihood of threshold fluctuation and/or progression.