Glycinergic neurons in the cochlear nucleus (CN) of C57BL/6J (C57) and CBA/CaJ (CBA) mice were studied by using immunocytochemical and receptor-binding techniques. Adult C57 mice exhibit progressive cochlear pathology as they age, whereas aging CBA mice retain good hearing. In the CN of old C57 mice (18 months) with severe hearing loss, the number of glycine-immunoreactive neurons decreased significantly. The number (Bmax) of strychnine-sensitive glycine receptors (GlyR) decreased significantly in the dorsal CN of old C57 mice. Significant effects were not observed in the CN of middle-aged C57 mice (with less-severe hearing loss) or in very old CBA mice (which do not exhibit severe hearing loss). The data suggest that the combination of severe hearing loss and old age results in deficits in one or more inhibitory glycinergic circuits in the CN.