Functional MR imaging (fMRI) is being used increasingly to explore the human central auditory system. The considerable background noise produced by echo-planar imaging (EPI) and other fMRI sequences, however, interferes in an unpredictable way with the experimental stimuli. Several approaches exist to overcome this problem. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. These different approaches allow researchers to tailor the experimental designs to specific research questions. Recent studies have yielded significant information about human auditory function. Compared with other sensory systems such as the visual system, the auditory database still is relatively small. It is expected that novel methodologic approaches will stimulate scientific exploration of auditory processing and eventually lead to clinically meaningful applications of auditory fMRI.