The EMG of the stapedius muscle and visible movements in the stapedius tendon during the subject's own vocalization of an [a:] and during contralateral acoustic stimulation were studied in subjects with eardrum perforation. The threshold for stapedius activity was near the lowest vocal intensity that the subjects could produce. At normal vocal effort the stapedius muscle was activated to about 50% of its maximum value. The EMG often started before the vocal sound, indicating that the stapedius muscle can be activated from the central nervous system as a part of the vocalization process. It is suggested that the contraction of the stapedius muscle during vocalization reduces the masking caused by the low frequency components of the person's own voice even at normal vocal effort and thereby improves intelligibility of simultaneous external speech.