BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The present study investigated the role of the peripheral vestibular end organ in vestibular symptoms and temporal changes in expression of c-Fos protein in the vestibular nuclei following anterior inferior cerebellar artery (AICA) occlusion using rats with unilateral or bilateral labyrinthectomy. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Expression of c-Fos protein in the vestibular nuclei was measured 2, 12, 24, and 48 hours after AICA occlusion. RESULTS: Unilateral AICA occlusion significantly induced expression of c-Fos protein bilaterally in the medial, inferior, superior, and lateral vestibular nuclei. Following AICA occlusion, the medial vestibular nucleus (MVN) showed the highest expression of c-Fos protein among the 4 vestibular nuclei. The expression of c-Fos protein was asymmetric between the bilateral MVN, showing higher expression in the MVN contralateral to the side of AICA occlusion compared to the ipsilateral MVN. The degree of asymmetry in c-Fos protein expression between the bilateral MVN peaked 12 hours after AICA occlusion. The expression of c-Fos protein gradually decreased 24 hours after AICA occlusion and returned to control levels 48 hours after AICA occlusion. Unilateral labyrinthectomy significantly decreased expression of c-Fos protein in the MVN ipsilateral to the side of labyrinthectomy following AICA occlusion. Moreover, bilateral labyrinthectomy significantly decreased expression of c-Fos protein in the bilateral MVN flowing AICA occlusion. CONCLUSION: These results suggest that afferent signals from the peripheral vestibular end organ are crucial to the expression of c-Fos protein in the MVN following AICA occlusion and that expression of c-Fos protein is sustained for 24 hours after AICA occlusion.