The inner ear is an intricate three-dimensional sensory organ that arises from a flat, thickened portion of the ectoderm termed the otic placode. There is evidence that the ontogenetic steps involved in the progressive specification of the highly specialized inner ear of vertebrates involve the concerted actions of diverse patterning signals that originate from nearby tissues, providing positional identity and instructive context. The topology of the prospective inner ear portions at placode stages when such patterning begins has remained largely unknown. The chick-quail model was used to perform a comprehensive fate mapping study of the chick otic placode, shedding light on the precise topological position of each presumptive inner ear component relative to the dorsoventral and anteroposterior axes of the otic placode and, implicitly, to the possible sources of inducing signals. The findings reveal the existence of three dorsoventrally arranged anteroposterior domains from which the endolymphatic system, the maculae and basilar papilla, and the cristae develop. This study provides new bases for the interpretation of earlier and future descriptive and experimental studies that aim to understand the molecular genetic mechanisms involved in otic placode patterning.