The mammalian auditory sensory organ, the organ of Corti, consists of sensory hair cells with uniformly oriented stereocilia on the apical surfaces and has a distinct planar cell polarity (PCP) parallel to the sensory epithelium1-3. It is not certain how this polarity is achieved during differentiation4-5. Here we show that the organ of Corti is formed from a thicker and shorter postmitotic primordium through unidirectional extension, characteristic of cellular intercalation known as convergent extension6. Mutations in the PCP pathway interfere with this extension, resulting a shorter and wider cochlea as well as misorientation of stereocilia. Furthermore, parallel to the homologous pathway in Drosophila melanogaster7,8, a mammalian PCP component Dishevelled2 shows PCP-dependent polarized subcellular localization across the organ of Corti. Taken together, these data suggest that there is a conserved molecular mechanism for PCP pathways in invertebrates and vertebrates and indicate that the mammalian PCP pathway might directly couple cellular intercalations to PCP establishment in the cochlea. © 2005 Nature Publishing Group.