Local circuit interactions between the dorsal and ventral divisions of the cochlear nucleus are known to influence the evoked responses of the resident neurons to sound. In the present study, we examined the projections of neurons in the ventral cochlear nucleus to the dorsal cochlear nucleus by using retrograde transport of biotinylated dextran amine injected into restricted but different regions of the dorsal cochlear nucleus. In all cases, we found retrogradely labeled granule, unipolar brush, and chestnut cells in the granule cell domain, and retrogradely labeled multipolar cells in the magnocellular core of the ventral cochlear nucleus. A small number of the labeled multipolar cells were found along the margins of the ventral cochlear nucleus, usually near the boundaries of the granule cell domain. Spherical bushy, globular bushy, and octopus cells were not labeled. Retrogradely-labeled auditory nerve fibers and the majority of labeled multipolar neurons formed a narrow sheet extending across the medial-to-lateral extent of the ventral cochlear nucleus whose dorsoventral position was topographically related to the injection site. Labeled multipolar cells within the core of the ventral cochlear nucleus could be divided into at least two distinct groups. Planar neurons were most numerous, their somata found within the associated band of labeled fibers, and their dendrites oriented within this band. This arrangement mimics the organization of isofrequency contours and implies that planar neurons respond best to a narrow range of frequencies. In contrast, radiate neurons were infrequent, found scattered throughout the ventral cochlear nucleus, and had long dendrites oriented perpendicular to the isofrequency contours. This dendritic orientation suggests that radiate neurons are sensitive to a broad range of frequencies. These structural differences between planar and radiate neurons suggest that they subserve separate functions in acoustic processing. J. Comp. Neurol. 385:245–264, 1997. © 1997 Wiley-Liss, Inc.