The frequency response of primary saccular afferents of toadfish (Opsanus tau) was studied in the time and frequency domains using the reverse correlation (revcor) method. Stimuli were noise bands with flat acceleration spectra delivered as whole-body motion. The recorded acceleration waveform was averaged over epochs preceding and following each spike. This average, termed the revcor, is an estimate of the response of an equivalent linear filter intervening between body motion and spike initiation. The spectrum of the revcor estimates the shape of the equivalent linear filter. Revcor responses were brief, damped oscillations indicative of relatively broadly tuned filters. Filter shapes were generally band-pass and differed in bandwidth, band edge slope, and characteristic frequency (74 Hz to 140 Hz). Filter shapes tend to be independent of stimulus level. Afferents can be placed into two groups with respect to characteristic frequency (74-88 Hz and 140 Hz). Some high-frequency afferents share a secondary peak at the characteristic frequency of low-frequency afferents, suggesting that an afferent may receive differently tuned peripheral inputs. For some afferents having similar filter shapes, revcor responses often differ only in polarity, probably reflecting inputs from hair cells oriented in opposite directions. The origin of frequency selectivity and its diversity among saccular afferents may arise from a combination of hair cell resonance and micromechanical processes. The resulting frequency analysis is the simplest yet observed among vertebrate animals. During courtship, male toadfish produce the 'boatwhistle' call, a periodic vocalization having several harmonics of a 130 Hz fundamental frequency. The saccule encodes the waveform of acoustic particle acceleration between < 50 and about 250 Hz. Thus, the fundamental frequency component of the boatwhistle is well encoded, but the successive higher harmonics are filtered out. The boatwhistle is thus encoded as a time-domain representation of its fundamental frequency or pulse repetition rate.