Much is known about the mechanotransducer (MT) channels mediating transduction in hair cells of the vertrbrate inner ear. With the use of isolated preparations, it is experimentally feasible to deliver precise mechanical stimuli to individual cells and record the ensuing transducer currents. This approach has shown that small (1-100 nm) deflections of the hair-cell stereociliary bundle are transmitted via interciliary tip links to open MT channels at the tops of the stereocilia. These channels are cation-permeable with a high selectivity for Ca(2+); two channels are thought to be localized at the lower end of the tip link, each with a large single-channel conductance that increases from the low- to high-frequency end of the cochlea. Ca(2+) influx through open channels regulates their resting open probability, which may contribute to setting the hair cell resting potential in vivo. Ca(2+) also controls transducer fast adaptation and force generation by the hair bundle, the two coupled processes increasing in speed from cochlear apex to base. The molecular intricacy of the stereocilary bundle and the transduction apparatus is reflected by the large number of single-gene mutations that are linked to sensorineural deafness, especially those in Usher syndrome. Studies of such mutants have led to the discovery of many of the molecules of the transduction complex, including the tip link and its attachments to the stereociliary core. However, the MT channel protein is still not firmly identified, nor is it known whether the channel is activated by force delivered through accessory proteins or by deformation of the lipid bilayer.