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A total of 204 chronic middle ear effusions from 122 children have been studied. Bacteria were isolated from 30 effusions. The commonest species found were Strep. pneumoniae and H. influenzae. These are also the commonest organisms causing acute otitis media (AOM). A similar pattern of serotypes was also demonstrated. In vitro sensitivity testing showed that most of the organisms isolated were sensitive to most commonly-used antibiotics. The main exception was resistance to penicillin amongst strains of H. influenzae and Staph. aureus. It is suggested that some cases of chronic secretory otitis media (SOM) may arise as a result of incomplete resolution of AOM and that the use of penicillin to treat AOM may be one factor in this process.