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Ototoxicity is a disabling reaction to cisplatin chemotherapy. Much of the inter-individual variability in the development of hearing impairment among cisplatin-receiving patients has not been fully accounted for. In particular, little is known about the pharmacogenomics of cisplatin-induced ototoxicity. This study sought to investigate the role of variation in five candidate genes in a cohort of South African cancer patients. Five variants within the candidate genes were genotyped in 214 patients, of which SLC22A2 rs316019 and NFE2L2 rs6721961 associated with reduced rates of ototoxicity. In the patients who were exposed to cumulative cisplatin doses ≥ 200 mg m-2 (n = 113), the variant rs6721961 associated with ototoxicity according to three different grading scales of hearing loss (ASHA, P = 0.005; Chang, P = 0.028; CTCAE, P = 0.004). The NFE2L2 promotor variant rs6721961 may therefore be protective against hearing loss in cisplatin-receiving cancer patients.