Antidromic stimulation of the stump of the VIIIth nerve was combined with microelectrode recording in the spiral ganglion of the guinea pig cochlea in an attempt to identify a sub-population of neurons with long-latency antidromic action potentials that might correspond to the thin unmyelinated afferent neurons emanating from the outer hair cells. The techniques used were similar but not identical to those employed in an earlier study by Brown (1994). By far the largest population of cells contacted had short antidromic latencies (0.58 +/- 0.12 ms, 76 units) and also responded to acoustic stimulation. These were assumed to be type I afferents emanating from inner hair cells. Eight cells had antidromic latencies larger than 1 ms, all but one of which had a zero spontaneous rate. All eight of these longer-latency cells were unresponsive to acoustic stimulation despite the fact that short-latency neurons in the same cochleas showed robust responses to sound before and after they were contacted. Four of these longer-latency cells had their antidromic thresholds accurately measured and two had significantly higher thresholds to electrical stimulation (0.1 ms duration) than type I cells in the same animal while two had similar electrical thresholds. Attempts to trace the eight long-latency neurons to the outer hair cells using intracellular injection of horseradish peroxidase were unsuccessful. On the basis of present evidence, we cannot conclude definitively that the long-latency neurons found in the spiral ganglion belong to the outer hair cell afferent population. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.