Objective: Hydrogen-rich water, which is a potent antioxidant agent, was investigated for its protective effects against ischemic damage of the cochlea in gerbils. Methods: The animals were subjected to transient cochlear ischemia by occluding the bilateral vertebral arteries for l5min. Five milliliters of hydrogen-rich saline was then intravenously administered immediately after the insult. Saline without hydrogen was used as a control. Effects of hydrogen were evaluated using the auditory brainstem response (ABR) and histological studies of the inner ear. Results: In non-ischemia animals, ABR thresholds and histological findings of the cochlea did not change by administration of saline or hydrogen-rich saline. In contrast, transient cochlear ischemia caused a 24.2±3.8dB increase in the ABR threshold at 8kHz, and a decrease of 14.1%±1.8% in the number of inner hair cells (IHCs) at the basal turn on day 7. Ischemic damage was more severe at 16 and 32kHz. When the animals were treated with hydrogen-rich saline, cochlear damage was significantly reduced: the increase in ABR threshold was 11.7±2.6dB at 8kHz and the IHC loss was 7.5%±2.1% at the basal turn on day 7. The effects of hydrogen-rich saline were more prominent at higher frequencies. Conclusions: Intravenous administration of hydrogen-rich saline was effective in preventing acute hearing loss due to transient cochlear ischemia.