A knowledge of the microanatomy of the cochlear nucleus complex and its variations is essential for successful implantation and for the design of stimulation devices. One hundred cerebellopontine angle specimens were dissected under surgical conditions using the Zeiss NC31 surgical microscope. The topographical anatomy of the exit of the vestibulocochlear nerve, the cochlear nucleus and the surface of the medulla and their relation to the surrounding structures was recorded and measured. The mean distances between the exits of the VIIth and VIIIth cranial nerves were 4.7 ± 0.9 mm, between the VIIth and IXth 6.3 ± 1.2 mm and between the VIIIth and IXth 5.5 ± 1.0 mm. The visible area of the cochlear nucleus covered a square of 10.0 ± 2.9 by 3.3 ± 1.0 mm. A major AICA-loop had to be re-routed in 17 per cent of specimens. The taenia of the choroid plexus was present in 92 per cent and had to be cut in 51 per cent in order to enter the foramen of Luschka, that had a mean size of 3.5 by 2.0.mm. It was wide open in 24 per cent , open only after incision of the arachnoid in 53 per cent, functionally closed but opened by extensive dissection in 18 per cent and anatomically occluded in five per cent of the specimens. The typical straight vein at the cochlear nucleus leading to the entrance of the foramen of Luschka was found in 76 per cent of specimens. Constant anatomical landmarks are very helpful for finding the cochlear nucleus, but variations may endanger dissection and implantation in a remarkable number of cases.