The calcium chelator BAPTA was iontophoresed into the scala media of the second turn of the guinea pig cochlea. This produced a reduction in low frequency cochlear microphonic (CM) measured in scala media and an elevation of the cochlear action potential (CAP) threshold that lasted for the duration of the experiment. Using two pipettes, one filled with KCl and the other KCl and BAPTA (50, 20 and 5 mM) it was possible to observe the effect of passing current through one electrode while measuring the endolymphatic, potential (EP) with the other. The results demonstrated that current passed via the BAPTA pipette caused a sustained increase in EP of 8.2, 12.9 and 7.8 mV in the three animals used. This increase coincided with the decrease in low frequency CM that indicated a causal connection between the two. In a second series of experiments, pipettes with larger tips were inserted into scala media in the first cochlear turn and BAPTA was allowed to diffuse from the pipette. The results confirmed the relationship between EP increase and the fall of scala media CM. One interpretation of these results is that lowering the Ca2+ concentration of endolymph with BAPTA inhibits mechano-electrical transduction in outer hair cells (OHCs) and leaves the hair cell transduction channels in a closed state, thus increasing the resistance across OHCs and increasing the EP. These findings are consistent with a model of hair cell transduction in which tension on stereo cilia opens the transduction channels. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.