Transmission electron microscopy of the cochlear organ of Corti in experimental endolymphatic hydrops revealed two principal features. Starting 1 month after induction of hydrops, osmiophilic inclusions thought to represent lipofuscin accumulation were frequently observed in the subcuticular cytoplasm of the outer hair cells along the length of the cochlea. Starting 3 months after induction of hydrops the efferent terminals on the outer hair cells appeared to be vacuolated. These data suggest that oxidative insult is likely to contribute to the pathology associated with endolymphatic hydrops and thus that free radical scavengers might be useful in the treatment of Menière's disease patients. In addition the early modification of the efferent innervation of the hydropic cochlea might underlie the known hypersensitivity to various insults, including noise stimulation, glycerol administration and hypoxia.