A role for connexin (Cx)30 in epithelial repair following injury was examined in the organ of Corti, the sensory epithelium of the cochlea. In this tissue, lesions caused by loss of the sensory hair cells are closed by the supporting cells that surround each one. Gap junctions in which Cx30 is the predominant connexin are large and numerous between supporting cells. In mice carrying a deletion in the gene (Gjb6) that encodes Cx30, the size and number of gap junction plaques, and the extent of dye transfer, between supporting cells was greatly reduced compared with normal animals. This corresponded with unique peculiarities of the lesion closure events during the progressive hair cell loss that occurs in these animals in comparison with other models of hair cell loss, whether acquired or as a result of a mutation. Only one, rather than all, of the supporting cells that contacted an individual dying hair closed the lesion, indicating disturbance of the co-ordination of cellular responses. The cell shape changes that the supporting cells normally undergo during repair of the organ of Corti did not occur. Also, there was disruption of the migratory activities that normally lead to the replacement of a columnar epithelium with a squamous-like one. These observations demonstrate a role for Cx30 and intercellular communication in regulating repair responses in an epithelial tissue.