Exposure to an impulse noise of 155？dB (peak sound pressure level) caused a site-specific disruption in the intercellular junctions within the sensory epithelium of the chinchilla cochlea. The most vulnerable sites were the junctions among the Hensen cells and between the Hensen and Deiters cells within the outer zone of the sensory epithelium. The junction clefts that formed in the reticular lamina were permeable to 40 and 500 but not 2,000？kDa dextran-FITC macromolecules. Moreover, this study showed that the interruption of junction integrity occurred in the reticular lamina and also in the basilar membrane, a site that had been considered to be resistant to acoustic injury. Finally, our study revealed a general spatial correlation between the site of sensory cell damage and the site of junction disruption. However, the two events lacked a strict one-to-one correlation, suggesting that the disruption of cell-cell junctions is a contributing, but not the sole, factor for initiating acute sensory cell death.Impulse noise causes the functional disruption of intercellular junctions in the sensory epithelium of the chinchilla cochlea. This disruption occurs at an early phase of cochlear damage. Understanding the role of this disruption in cochlear pathogenesis will require future study.