[en] Although the structure of the auditory organ in mature mammals, the organ of Corti, is clearly established, its development is far from being elucidated. Here, we examine its spatio-temporal development in rats from embryonic day 16 (E16) to E19 by using cytochemical and immunocytochemical methods at the light- and electron-microscope levels. We demonstrate that the organ of Corti develops from a non-proliferating cell zone that is located in the junctional region between two edges of the dorsal epithelium of the cochlear duct. We also reveal that the first cells to develop in this zone are the inner pillar cells, a particular type of non-sensory supporting cell, which arise in the base of the cochlear duct at the boundary between the two ridges at E16. Cell differentiation in this prosensory region continues according to a base-to-apex gradient; the inner hair cells appear in the greater epithelial ridge at E17 and the outer hair cells in the lesser epithelial ridge at E18. At E19, the various cell types of the organ of Corti are in place. Finally, we show that unlike the development of all the supporting cell types of the organ of Corti, the development of inner pillar cells within the prosensory domain seems not to involve Notch1 activation. These results highlight the central role that the inner pillar cells probably play in the development of the organ of Corti.