The retinoblastoma protein pRb is required for cell-cycle exit of embryonic mammalian hair cells but not for their early differentiation. However, its role in postnatal hair cells is unknown. To study the function of pRb in mature animals, we created a new conditional mouse model, with the Rb gene deleted primarily in the inner ear. Progeny survive up to 6 months. During early postnatal development, pRb-/- hair cells continue to divide and can transduce mechanical stimuli. However, adult pRb-/- mice exhibit profound hearing loss due to progressive degeneration of the organ of Corti. We show that pRb is required for the full maturation of cochlear outer hair cells, likely in a gene-specific manner, and is also essential for their survival. In addition, lack of pRb results in cell division in postnatal auditory supporting cells. In contrast, many pRb-/- vestibular hair cells survive and continue to divide in adult mice. Significantly, adult pRb-/- vestibular hair cells are functional, and pRb-/- mice maintain partial vestibular function. Therefore, the functional adult vestibular pRb-/- hair cells, derived from proliferation of postnatal hair cells, are largely integrated into vestibular pathways. This study reveals essential yet distinct roles of pRb in cochlear and vestibular hair cell maturation, function, and survival and suggests that transient block of pRb function in mature hair cells may lead to propagation of functional hair cells.