Application of dexamethasone to the round window has been shown to ameliorate high frequency hearing loss resulting from the trauma of cochlear implantation in experimental animals, but elucidation of the factors influencing protection of the high frequencies has been confounded by the local trauma from electrode array insertion. In this experiment, a second turn cochleostomy and implantation was performed on guinea pigs, to examine protection in the basal turn without the confounding effect of local trauma, as well as to test the efficacy of hearing protection in the second cochlear turn. The implantation resulted in an increase in hearing thresholds across all frequencies examined (2-32 kHz). Local delivery of dexamethasone to the round window prior to implantation protected hearing across frequencies from 2 to 32 kHz. Auditory thresholds improved over the first week after surgery, and then remained stable for the month of the experiment. The protection of hearing in the basal turn increased with longer periods of drug application prior to implantation. The level of hearing protection in the second turn was similar irrespective of the time that the drug was applied, but was greater when a higher steroid concentration was used. It was concluded that steroids protect hearing in the basal turn of the cochlea even when there was no local trauma. The level of hearing protection in the second turn exceeded that expected from models of steroid diffusion through the cochlea, suggesting that inner ear surgery alters the distribution of dexamethasone within the cochlea.