We recently demonstrated that sub-chronic low-dose kanamycin (KM, 300 mg/kg sc, 2×/day, 10 days) dramatically reduces permanent noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and hair cell loss in 1 month old CBA/J mice (Fernandez et al., 2010, J. Assoc. Res. Otolaryngol. 11, 235-244). Protection by KM remained for at least 48 h after the last dose, and appeared to involve a cumulative effect of multiple doses as part of a preconditioning process. The first month of life lies within the early 'sensitive period' for both cochlear noise and ototoxic injury in mice, and CBA/J mice appear exquisitely vulnerable to noise during this period (Ohlemiller et al., 2011; Hearing Res. 272, 13-20). From our initial data, we could not rule out 1) that less rigorous treatment protocols than the intensive one we applied may be equally-or more-protective; 2) that protection by KM is tightly linked to processes unique to the sensitive period for noise or ototoxins; or 3) that protection by KM is exclusive to CBA/J mice. The present experiments address these questions by varying the number and timing of fixed doses (300 mg/kg sc) of KM, as well as the age at treatment in CBA/J mice. We also tested for protection in young C57BL/6J (B6) mice. We find that nearly complete protection against at least 2 h of intense (110 dB SPL) broadband noise can be observed in CBA/J mice at least for ages up to 1 year. Reducing dosing frequency to as little as once every other day (a four-fold decrease in dosing frequency) appeared as protective as twice per day. However, reducing the number of doses to just 1 or 2, followed by noise 24 or 48 h later greatly reduced protection. Notably, hearing thresholds and hair cells in young B6 mice appeared completely unprotected by the same regimen that dramatically protects CBA/J mice. We conclude that protective effects of KM against NIHL in CBA/J mice can be engaged by a wide range of dosing regimens, and are not exclusive to the sensitive period for noise or ototoxins. While we cannot presently judge the generality of protection across genetic backgrounds, it appears not to be universal, since B6 showed no benefit. Classical genetic approaches based on CBA/J × B6 crosses may reveal loci critical to protective cascades engaged by kanamycin and perhaps other preconditioners. Their human analogs may partly determine who is at elevated risk of acquired hearing loss.