This investigation examines temporal processing through successive sites in the rat auditory pathway: auditory nerve (AN), anteroventral cochlear nucleus (AVCN) and the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB). The degree of phase-locking, measured as vector strength, varied with intensity relative to the cell's threshold, and saturated at a value that depended upon stimulus frequency. A typical pattern showed decline in the saturated vector strength from approximately 0.8 at 400 Hz to about 0.3 at 2000 Hz, with similar profiles in units with a range of characteristic frequencies (480-32,000 Hz). A new expression for temporal dispersion indicates that this variation corresponds to a limiting degree of temporal imprecision, which is relatively consistent between different cells. From AN to AVCN, an increase in vector strength was seen for frequencies below 1000 Hz. At higher frequencies, a decrease in vector strength was observed. From AVCN to MNTB a tendency for temporal coding to be improved below 800 Hz and degraded further above 1500 Hz was seen. This change in temporal processing ability could be attributed to units classified as primary-like with notch (PL(N)). PL(N) MNTB units showed a similar vector strength distribution to PL(N) AVCN units. Our results suggest that AVCN PL(N) units, representing globular bushy cells, are specialised for enhancing the temporal code at low frequencies and relaying this information to principal cells of the MNTB.