Recordings were made from primary afferent fibres and secondary projection neurones (crest cells) in the mechanosensory lateral line system of the dwarf scorpionfish. Crest cells were identified by antidromic stimulation from the contralateral midbrain. Differences between primary afferent fibre and crest cell response characteristics are indicative of signal processing by the neuronal circuitry of the medial octavolateralis nucleus. There are a number of differences between primary afferent fibres and crest cells. Primary afferents have relatively high levels of spontaneous activity (mean close to 40 impulses s-1) and many of them are strongly modulated by ventilation. By contrast, crest cells have a much lower rate of spontaneous activity that is not obviously modulated by ventilation. Primary afferents show a simple tonic response to a maintained stimulus, whereas crest cells show a variety of temporal response properties, but in general show a phasic/tonic response to the same prolonged stimulus. Afferents are most sensitive to frequencies of stimulation around 100 Hz; in contrast, crest cells show a strong suppression of activity at this frequency. Crest cells are most responsive around 50 Hz. These afferent/secondary comparisons show similarities with those reported for allied electrosensory and auditory pathways.