Projections from auditory brainstem nuclei to the cochlear nuclei in the guinea pig were studied by injection of two retrograde fluorescent neuronal tracers. For seven experiments fast blue was injected into the scala tympani of one cochlea and diamidino yellow was injected into dorsal or anteroventral cochlear nucleus of the same side. The results show that the efferent projections to the cochlea and cochlear nucleus generally form two separate neuronal systems even though they share many common nuclei of origin. The largest projections to the cochlear nucleus come bilaterally from the lateral and ventral nuclei of the trapezoid body. Other nuclei, the lateral superior olive, the ventral nucleus of the lateral lemniscus, the dorsomedial periolivary nuclei, and the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body showed an ipsilateral bias in their projections to the cochlear nucleus. An upper limit of 3.5% of the medial system olivocochlear efferent neurones projecting to the cochlea were labelled with both diamidino yellow and fast blue, suggesting that few efferent neurones projecting to the cochlea send collaterals to the cochlear nucleus in this species. However, the site of medial system olivocochlear efferent collateral terminations is the granule cell area for the cat, mouse, and gerbil. When diamidino yellow was injected in the superficial layers of the cochlear nucleus, including the superficial granule cell layer of the ventral cochlear nucleus, approximately 3.6% of medial system olivocochlear efferents projecting to the cochlea sent collaterals to the cochlear nucleus. In three animals fast blue was injected into the cochlear nucleus and diamidino yellow into the cochlea. These experiments revealed a greater proportion of the medial system olivocochlear efferents projecting to the cochlea sending collaterals to the cochlear nucleus, but this proportion was still less than 10%. These results were confirmed by the extracellular injection of horseradish peroxidase into the intraganglionic spiral bundle. Only three medial system olivocochlear efferents were observed to send collaterals to the cochlear nucleus. This number was less than 10% of all labelled medial system fibres. Although these experiments suggest that in the guinea pig the number of olivocochlear efferents sending collaterals to the cochlear nucleus is considerably smaller than is found for the cat, mouse, and gerbil, it is not possible with the current experimental procedures to conclude whether the results are due to species or methodological differences. Copyright © 1989 Alan R. Liss, Inc.