Tinnitus has similarities to chronic neuropathic pain where there are changes in the firing rate of different types of afferent neurons. We postulated that one possible cause of tinnitus is a change in the distribution of spontaneous firing rates in at least one type of afferent auditory nerve fibre in anaesthetised guinea pigs. In control animals there was a bimodal distribution of spontaneous rates, but the position of the second mode was different depending upon whether the fibres responded best to high (> 4 kHz) or low (≤4 kHz) frequency tonal stimulation. The simplest and most reliable way of inducing tinnitus in experimental animals is to administer a high dose of sodium salicylate. The distribution of the spontaneous firing rates was different when salicylate (350 mg/kg) was administered, even when the sample was matched for the distribution of characteristic frequencies in the control population. The proportion of medium spontaneous rate fibres (MSR, 1≤ spikes/s ≤20) increased while the proportion of the highest, high spontaneous firing rate fibres (HSR, > 80 spikes/s) decreased following salicylate. The median rate fell from 64.7 spikes/s (control) to 35.4 spikes/s (salicylate); a highly significant change (Kruskal-Wallis test p < 0.001). When the changes were compared with various models of statistical probability, the most accurate model was one where most HSR fibres decreased their firing rate by 32 spikes/s. Thus, we have shown a reduction in the firing rate of HSR fibres that may be related to tinnitus.