OBJECTIVES: To investigate the electric-acoustic interactions within the inferior colliculus of guinea pigs and to observe how central masking appears in invasive neural recordings of the inferior colliculus (IC). METHODS: A platinum-iridium wire was inserted to scala tympani through cochleostomy with a depth no greater than 1 mm for intracochlear stimulation of electric pulse train. A 5 mm 100 microm, single-shank, thin-film, penetrating recording probe was inserted perpendicularly to the surface of the IC in the coronal plane at an angle of 30-40degrees off the parasagittal plane with a depth of 2.0-2.5 mm. The peripheral and central masking effects were compared using electric pulse trains to the left ear and acoustic noise to the left ear (ipsilateral) and to the right ear (contralateral). Binaural acoustic stimuli were presented with different time delays and compared with combined electric and acoustic stimuli. The averaged evoked potentials and total spike numbers were measured using thin-film electrodes inserted into the central nucleus of the IC. RESULTS: Ipsilateral noise had more obvious effects on the electric response than did contralateral noise. Contralateral noise decreased slightly the response amplitude to the electric pulse train stimuli. Immediately after the onset of acoustic noise, the response pattern changed transiently with shorter response intervals. The effects of contralateral noise were evident at the beginning of the continuous noise. The total spike number decreased when the binaural stimuli reached the IC most simultaneously. CONCLUSION: These results suggest that central masking is quite different from peripheral masking and occurs within the binaural auditory system, and this study showed that the effect of masking could be observed in the IC recording. These effects are more evident and consistent with the psychophysical data from spike number analyses than with the previously reported gross potential data.