Language and learning disabilities occur in almost half of individuals with oral clefts. The characteristics of these cognitive dysfunctions vary according to the cleft type, and the mechanisms underlying the relation between cleft type, cognitive dysfunction, and cleft-caused middle-ear disease are unknown. This study investigates preattentive auditory discrimination, which plays a significant role in language acquisition and usage, in infants with different cleft types. A mismatch negativity (MMN) component of brain evoked potentials, which indexes preconscious sound discrimination, and brain responses to rare sine-wave tones were recorded in 12 healthy infants and 32 infants with oral clefts at the ages of 0 and 6 months. Infants with clefts were subdivided into two categories: those with cleft lip and palate (CLP) (n=11 at birth, n=6 at the age of 6 months) and those with cleft palate only (CPO) (n=17 at birth, n=8 at the age of 6 months). At both ages, brain responses to rare sounds tended to be smaller in both cleft subgroups than in healthy peers. However, in the latency range of 300 to 500 ms, the MMN was significantly smaller in infants with CPO. In infants with CLP, the MMN was comparable to that of healthy infants. Differences in auditory discrimination between infants with CLP and CPO, as reflected by MMN, were detectable at birth and persisted into later infancy. This pattern parallels known behavioural differences between children with these cleft types. Brain responses to rare sounds, in contrast, had no differentiative power with respect to the cleft type.