Besides mechanical or infectious factors in the genesis of secretory otitis media IgE-mediated hypersensitivity has often been discussed. In order to estimate the importance of an allergic reaction in the development of middle ear disease, we examined 27 children having adenoids and a secretory otitis media. We documented the patients' history of allergy and determined the IgE-levels in the serum, the middle ear effusions and the adenoid tissue. 5 out of 27 children suffered from an allergy of the upper respiratory tract, but only in one child we found an elevated level of IgE in middle ear effusion. On the basis of our investigations and recent literature, we suggest that an allergic rhinitis might cause an Eustachian tube dysfunction in a few patients. There is no evidence of a local allergic reaction of the middle ear mucosa.