Optical stimulation of the inner ear, the cochlea, is discussed as a possible alternative to conventional cochlear implants with the hypothetical improvement of dynamic range and frequency resolution. In this study nanosecond-pulsed optical stimulation of the hearing and non-hearing inner ear is investigated in vivo over a wide range of optical wavelengths and at different beam delivery locations. Seven anaesthetized guinea pigs were optically stimulated before and after neomycin induced destruction of hair cells. An optical parametric oscillator was tuned to different wavelengths (420 nm-2150 nm, ultraviolet to near-infrared) and delivered 3-5 ns long pulses with 6 μJ pulse energy via a multimode optical fiber located either extracochlearly in front of the intact round window membrane or intracochlearly within the scala tympani. Cochlear responses were measured using registration of compound action potentials (CAPs). With intact hair cells CAP similar to acoustic stimulation were measured at both locations, while the neomycin treated cochleae did not show any response in any case. The CAP amplitudes of the functional cochleae showed a positive correlation to the absorption coefficient of hemoglobin and also to moderate water absorption. A negative correlation of CAP amplitude with a water absorption coefficient greater than 5.5 cm-1 indicates additional phenomena. We conclude that in our stimulation paradigm with ns-pulses the most dominant stimulation effect is of optoacoustic nature and relates to functional hair cells.