Abstract Hemispheric asymmetries in response to speech sounds are well documented. However, it is not known if these asymmetries reflect only cortical hemispheric specialization to language or whether they also reflect pre-conscious encoding of signals at lower levels of the auditory pathway. This study examined differences in neural representations of signals with acoustic properties inherent to speech in the left versus right side of the thalamus. Specifically, 2000 Hz tone bursts, clicks and synthesized forms of the phoneme /da/ were presented to anesthetized guinea pigs. Evoked responses were recorded simultaneously from aggregate cell groups in the left and right medial geniculate bodies. Results showed an asymmetric response to complex auditory stimuli between the left versus right auditory thalamus, but not to the simple tonal signal. Moreover, asymmetries differed in male versus female animals.