Glass microelectrodes were introduced into the stria vascularis (SV) to measure the DC potential profile of the SV in vivo from its apical as well as basal side. The K+ concentration gradient in the lateral cochlear wall was measured by means of double barrel K+-selective microelectrodes. A positive potential 10.4 +/- 6.3 mV higher than the endocochlear potential (EP) was found in the SV. In noise-exposed animals the positive potential found in the SV was 14.6 +/- 7.2 mV higher than the EP. K+ concentration observed during penetration into the SV was in the range of 50-100 mmol/l. Simultaneous measurement of the DC positive potential in the SV and EP showed a nearly parallel time course during anoxia with a tendency to increase the difference between the SV potential and the EP. The difference reached approximately 30 mV 20 min after the beginning of anoxia. It may be assumed that the electrogenic pump localized at the basolateral membrane of the marginal cell (MC) is a source of the positive potential inside the MC and is hence a source of the potential drop across the luminal side of the MC membrane.