A descriptive model for auditory-nerve (AN) refractory periods is described. The model assumes that interspike intervals consist of a constant-length absolute refractory period (ARP), followed by random-length relative refractory period (RRP) and a random-length waiting time to the next spike. Both the RRP and waiting time are exponentially distributed. This model fits AN hazard functions sufficiently well to provide estimates of the ARP and RRP durations for each fiber. The ARP is found to be constant, independent of discharge rate, with mean value between 0.56 and 0.86 ms in data from 7 experiments. The RRP decreases in duration as discharge rate increases; RRP mean length is less than 2 ms in most cases. There is an additional, slow component of recovery, lasting 20-40 ms, which is not modeled. The variation in RRP with discharge rate is shown to be capable of accounting for the deviation of AN regularity from that predicted for a Poisson process. Finally, properties of peaks seen in hazard functions just at the end of the ARP are described; these peaks are not included in the model, but are shown to be especially prominent in low and medium spontaneous rate fibers.