A commonly used technique to obtain cochlear perilymph for analysis has been the aspiration of samples through the round window membrane. The present study has investigated the influence of the volume withdrawn on sample composition in the guinea pig. Samples of less than 200 nl in volume taken through the round window showed relatively high glycine content, comparable to the level found in samples taken from scala vestibuli. If larger volumes are withdrawn, lower glycine levels are observed. This is consistent with cerebrospinal fluid (having a low glycine content) being drawn into scala tympani through the cochlear aqueduct and contaminating the sample. The existence of a concentration difference for glycine between scala tympani perilymph and cerebrospinal fluid suggests the physiologic communication across the cochlear aqueduct is relatively small in this species. The observation of considerable exchange between cerebrospinal fluid and perilymph, as reported in some studies, is more likely to be an artifact of the experimental procedures, rather than of physiologic significance. Alternative sampling procedures have been evaluated which allow larger volumes of uncontaminated scala tympani perilymph to be collected.