Abstract Previous evidence has shown expression of synaptophysin by sensory cells of the auditory and vestibular systems in the human, but not in other mammalian species. Using a monoclonal antibody, SBI 20.10, we investigated the expression of synaptophysin in the sensory cells of the avian cochlea. We present immunohistochemical data showing synaptophysin expression by cochlear hair cells in both late stage embryos and adult chickens. Immunoblotting of cochleae confirmed an antigen with an apparent molecular weight appropriate for synaptophysin that increases with development. Immunoreactivity in the apex of the cochlea occurred in hair cells on both neural and abneural sides, whereas immunoreactivity in the base of the cochlea was relegated to hair cells on the neural side. These observations indicate that, in the avian auditory system, like the human, synaptophysin is expressed in the sensory cells of both the embryo and adult.