Heterologous tumor cells (human chronic myelogenous leukemia K-562 cells) were injected into the perilymph and skin in guinea pigs in order to study the induction of NK cell activity in the inner ear. An in vitro transmission electron microscopic and immunohistochemical study showed that K-562 cells were attacked by guinea pig large granular lymphocytes. K-562 cells injected through the round window membrane were found to be targeted by NK cells emerging from surrounding venules after 7 to 9 days. During this time morhological changes occurred in the organ of Corti and stria vacularis. These findings suggest that the inner ear response to foreign cells induces activation and invasion of NK cells which occur relatively late compared with those in other organs such as skin.