The rat inner ear is ectodermally derived from a region adjacent to the developing hindbrain. Beginning on day 8 of a 22‐day gestational period, this zone of ectoderm first forms the otic placode, then the otocyst, and ultimately the definitive membranous labyrinth. This report provides an estimation of total DNA content of the developing inner ear, and hence an estimation of the total number of cells that comprise the inner ear at each developmental stage. The incorporation of 3H‐thymidine indicates that most cells of the inner ear undergo DNA synthetic activity during gestational days 13 to 15. Radioautographic observations indicate a zone of DNA synthetic activity at the base of the outpocketing cochlear duct during early development. At the later stages of development, DNA synthesis is restricted to the cristae ampullares of the semicircular canals and the maculae of the utricle and the saccule. In contradistinction to the findings of other investigators, the statoacoustic ganglion complex undergoes terminal mitosis during gestational days 17 and 18. The gestational period between days 13 and 15 may prove to be a critical stage in normal otic development. The normal values of total DNA content and the number of cells that comprise the inner ear during development, established by these methods, can be compared with pathologic inner ears to provide quantitative means of assessing the damage in malformed inner ears. These values also form the baseline for future experimental studies of inner ear development.