To define the role of free radical formation and potential energy depletion in noise induced hearing loss (NIHL), we measured the effectiveness of tempol (free radical scavenger) and creatine (enhances cellular energy storage) alone and in combination to attenuate NIHL. Guinea pigs were divided into four treatment groups: controls, 3% creatine diet (2 weeks prior to noise exposure), tempol (3 mM in drinking water 2 weeks prior to exposure), and creatine plus tempol and exposed to 120 dB SPL one-octave band noise centered at 4 kHz for 5 h. The noise-only control group showed frequency-dependent auditory threshold shifts (measured by auditory brainstem response, ABR) of up to 73 dB (16 kHz) on day 1, and up to 50 dB (8 kHz) on day 10. Creatine-treated subjects had significantly smaller ABR threshold shifts on day 1 and on day 10. Tempol alone significantly reduced ABR threshold shifts on day 10 but not on day 1. ABR shifts after combination treatment were similar to those in the creatine group. Hair cell loss on day 10 was equally attenuated by creatine and tempol alone or in combination. Our results indicate that the maintenance of ATP levels is important in attenuating both temporary and permanent NIHL, while the scavenging of free radicals provides protection from permanent NIHL.