Surgical approaches to the inner ear with hearing preservation have valuable implications for neurotologic surgery. In a previous study in guinea pigs, we demonstrated that click-evoked auditory brain stem responses (ABRs) were preserved after transection and plugging of 1 or more semicircular canals but were lost after entering the vestibule (Smouha EE, et al. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 1996;114:777-784). A limitation of that study was that click-evoked ABR might not represent the function of the entire cochlea. In this study we used tone-burst ABR to determine thresholds across a broad range of frequencies (2 to 24 kHz) before and after surgical entry into the labyrinth at the lateral semicircular canal, ampulla, and vestibule. Serial measurements were made, and a sham surgery group was used as a control. The results obtained with tone-burst ABR generally agreed with those previously obtained with click stimuli. Tone-burst ABR thresholds were similar across most frequencies tested. Transecfion of the lateral semicircular canal resulted in preservation of ABR thresholds. Ampullectomy had a variable effect on ABR thresholds. Vestibulotomy usually resulted in substantial hearing loss. We conclude that hearing can be preserved across a range of frequencies after selective surgery of the inner ear. Surgical entry into the membranous labyrinth near the vestibule is the critical factor contributing to hearing loss after partial labyrinthectomy.