Abstract Morphological effects of prenatal sound attenuation and sound overstimulation by species specific and music sounds on the brainstem auditory nuclei of chick have been evaluated quantitatively. Changes in length, volume, neuron number, size of neuronal nuclei and glial numbers of second and third order auditory nuclei, n. magnocellularis (NM) and n. laminaris (NL), were determined from thionine-stained serial sections of control and experimental groups on posthatch day 1 using stereological methods. Significant increase in volume of both auditory nuclei attributable to increase in length of nucleus, number and size of neurons, number of glia as well as neuropil was observed in response to both species specific and music overstimulation given during the critical period of development. The enhanced development of auditory nuclei in response to enriched environment prenatally indicates a positive effect of activity on neurons which may have clinical implications in addition to providing explanation for preference to auditory cues in the postnatal life. Reduction in neuron number with a small increase in proportion of cell nuclei of large size as well as an increase in glial numbers was seen in both NM and NL of the prenatally sound attenuated chicks. The increase in size of some neuronal nuclei may probably be evidence of enhanced synthesis of proteins involved in cell death or an attempt at recovery. The dissociated response of neurons and glia under sound attenuated and auditory stimulated conditions suggests that they are independently regulated by activity-dependent signals with glia also being under influence of other signals for a role in removal of dead cell debris.