Bucillamine is used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. This study investigated the protective effects of bucillamine against cisplatin-induced damage in auditory cells, the organ of Corti from postnatal rats (P2) and adult Balb/C mice. Cisplatin increases the catalytic activity of caspase-3 and caspase-8 proteases and the production of free radicals, which were significantly suppressed by pretreatment with bucillamine. Bucillamine induces the intranuclear translocation of Nrf2 and thereby increases the expression of γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase (γ-GCS) and glutathione synthetase (GSS), which further induces intracellular antioxidant glutathione (GSH), heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) and superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2). However, knockdown studies of HO-1 and SOD2 suggest that the protective effect of bucillamine against cisplatin is independent of the enzymatic activity of HO-1 and SOD. Furthermore, pretreatment with bucillamine protects sensory hair cells on organ of Corti explants from cisplatin-induced cytotoxicity concomitantly with inhibition of caspase-3 activation. The auditory-brainstem-evoked response of cisplatin-injected mice shows marked increases in hearing threshold shifts, which was markedly suppressed by pretreatment with bucillamine in vivo. Taken together, bucillamine protects sensory hair cells from cisplatin through a scavenging effect on itself, as well as the induction of intracellular GSH.