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Tree codes are known to be capable of performing arbitrarily close to the rate-distortion function for any memoryless source and single-letter fidelity criterion. Tree coding and tree search strategies are investigated for the discrete-time memoryless Gaussian source encoded for a signal-power-to-mean-squared-error ratio of about 30 dB (about 5 binary digits per source output). Also, a theoretical lower bound on average search effort is derived. Two code search strategies (the Viterbi algorithm and the stack algorithm) were simulated in assembly language on a large digital computer. After suitable modifications, both strategies yielded encoding with a signal-to-distortion ratio about 1 dB below the limit set by the rate-distortion function. Although this performance is better than that of any previously known instrumentable scheme, it unfortunately requires search computation of the order of machine cycles per source output encoded.