There is a clear core-versus-shell distinction in cytoarchitecture, electrophysiological properties and neural connections in the mesencephalic and diencephalic auditory nuclei of amniotes. Determining whether the embryogenesis of auditory nuclei shows a similar organization is helpful for further understanding the constituent organization and evolution of auditory nuclei. Therefore in the present study, we injected [(3)H]-thymidine into turtle embryos (Pelodiscus sinensis) at various stages of development. Upon hatching, [(3)H]-thymidine labeling was examined in both the core and shell auditory regions in the midbrain, diencephalon and dorsal ventricular ridge. Met-enkephalin and substance P immunohistochemistry was used to distinguish the core and shell regions. In the mesencephalic auditory nucleus, the occurrence of heavily labeled neurons in the nucleus centralis of the torus semicircularis reached its peak at embryonic day 9, one day later than the surrounding shell. In the diencephalic auditory nucleus, the production of heavily labeled neurons in the central region of the reuniens (Re) was highest at embryonic day (E) 8, one day later than that in the shell region of reuniens. In the region of the dorsal ventricular ridge that received inputs from the central region of Re, the appearance of heavily labeled neurons also reached a peak one day later than that in the area receiving inputs from the shell region of reuniens. Thus, there is a core-versus-shell organization of neuronal generation in reptilian auditory areas.