Impaired auditory function following acoustic overstimulation, or noise, is mainly reported to be accompanied by cellular changes such as damage to the sensory hair bundles, but changes in the cell bodies of the outer hair cells have also been described. To investigate more closely the immediate cellular responses to overstimulation, isolated guinea pig outer hair cells were subjected to a 200 Hz oscillating water jet producing intense mechanical stimulation. The water jet was aimed at the cell body of the isolated outer hair cell. Cell shape changes were studied using video microscopy, and intracellular calcium concentration changes were monitored by means of the fluorescent calcium indicator Fluo-3. Cells exposed to a high-intensity stimulus showed surprisingly small light-microscopical alterations. The cytoplasmic calcium concentration increased in most cells, although some cells appeared very resistant to the mechanical stress. No correlation could be found be tween the calcium concentration changes and the cell length. The changes in calcium concentration reported here are suggested to be involved in the long-term pathogenesis of noise-induced hair cell damage.