Neural activity in the developing brainstem auditory pathway of the chick embryo is dominated by a rhythmic pattern of spontaneous discharge. Neurons in nucleus magnocellularis (NM) and nucleus laminaris (NL), second and third order auditory nuclei, discharge spontaneously in synchronous bursts at periodic intervals. Rhythmic bursting is present as early as embryonic day 14 (E14), shortly after the onset of functional synaptogenesis, and gives way to an adult-like, steady level of firing on E19, two days prior to hatching. In the present experiment, multiple-unit recording techniques were used in E17 and E18 embryos to examine the relationship between rate of rhythmic bursting and tonotopic position in NM and NL. The mean rate of rhythmic bursting ranged from 0.21-0.71 Hz. Bursting rate varied systematically as a function of position, being faster at progressively higher frequency regions of the nuclei at both E17 (r = 0.75) and E18 (r = 0.86). In addition, the rate of bursting at a given location in the nuclei increased during development. The presence of a systematic relationship between the rate of rhythmic bursting and tonotopic location suggests that the spatio-temporal pattern of spontaneous discharges could provide developmental cues for the spatial ordering of auditory projections.