The auditory thalamus of the guinea pig was investigated with microelectrode mapping techniques. Pure tones of varying frequencies and amplitudes were used as acoustic stimuli, and frequency tuning curves were recorded from 840 multi-units or single cells. The neurons in ventral nucleus of the medial geniculate body (MGv) respond vigorously to pure tones; they have mostly narrow frequency tuning curves and short response latencies (8-12 ms). The MGv is tonotopically organized High frequencies (16-21 kHz) are located rostrally; the intermediate frequencies (2.8-11 kHz) lie caudomedial of the high frequencies, while the low frequencies (0.5-2.8 kHz) run as a continuous band from rostrolateral to caudomedial. These data confirm a model of tonotopy of the guinea pig MGv which was based on anatomical data from previous tract-tracing experiments. In these experiments, thalamocortical connections were investigated with retrogradely transported tracers (horseradish peroxidase, fluorescent dyes, Redies et al. 1989b). Dorsal, lateral and in part also ventral to MGv, the neuronal responses to pure tones were often less vigorous than in MGv. Many neurons had broad frequency tuning curves, and in nearly all recordings from this region, the response latencies were longer than 12 ms. A tonotopic organization was not apparent here. From the response properties and the location relative to MGv, we concluded that this area corresponds to the shell nucleus of the MG.