Fos-like immunoreactivity evoked by basal, second or apical turn bipolar intracochlear electrical stimulation was evaluated in the spiral ganglion and cochlear nuclei. At stimulation levels of six times the electrically evoked auditory brain stem response thresholds, immunoreactive neurons were observed at appropriate discrete cochleotopic regions relative to stimulation site. The number of neurons increased with stimulus level and closely correlated to wave I amplitude. At 10 times thresholds, some spread in fos-like immunoreactivity to adjacent cochlear turns was found. However, fos-like immunoreactivity at this high level of stimulation still clearly showed a differential distribution in density of expression. These results indicated that the restricted topographic distribution of activity evoked by high levels of electrical stimulation is initiated at first order primary neurons of the system. For the profoundly deaf with cochlear implants, this indicates that place (channel) information can be maintained in the spiral ganglion and central nervous system even at very high levels of electrical stimulation. Together with our previous studies, these results indicate that fos provides a marker which can be used for evaluation of extent and pattern of cellular activation throughout the central auditory pathways, including activation of auditory nerve cells.