BACKGROUND:Experiments show that the extent of ongoing fibrotic change within the cochlea can be determined by the volume and pattern of bleeding within the first 24 h following cochlear implantation. Tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) is effective at reducing thrombus volume when administered both within and external to the systemic circulation. AIMS/OBJECTIVES:To determine if tPA delivered into the scala tympani immediately following implantation will reduce thrombus volume within the lower basal turn of the cochlea. MATERIALS AND METHODS:Guinea pigs were implanted with either 'soft' or 'hard' arrays and administered tPA or saline via an intra-cochlear infusion immediately after implantation. Hearing was checked prior to, and 2 weeks after implantation. Cochleae were then harvested and imaged. RESULTS:Animals implanted with 'soft' arrays had 4.2% less tissue response compared with animals implanted with 'hard' arrays. In animals receiving 'soft' arrays, tPA reduced the volume of tissue response (measured by the percentage of the lower basal turn of the scala tympani occupied by tissue response) compared with saline. CONCLUSIONS AND SIGNIFICANCE:tPA may be effective in reducing the overall volume of tissue response in routine 'soft' cochlear implantation and may have a greater effect in the event of significant surgical trauma.