A 64 year old woman with a predominantly midline pontine tegmental haemorrhage presented with bilateral total deafness. One week later reasonable pure-tone thresholds appeared but she still had total bilateral loss of speech discrimination. At that time contralateral acoustic reflexes were bilaterally absent, whereas ipsilateral acoustic reflexes and waves IV and V of the brainstem auditory evoked potential were bilaterally preserved. It is proposed that this patient's hearing deficit was due to inactivation of the ventral acoustic striae decussating in the trapezoid body. This case supports the contention that in humans the ventral pontine acoustic decussation carries most of the neural signals required for hearing and perhaps all the neural signals required for speech perception.