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AIM: To examine the association of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) with carcinoma of the ear. METHODS: Five non-keratinising squamous cell carcinomas and two undifferentiated carcinomas of the ear were examined. In situ hybridisation was used to localised EBV-encoded RNAs (EBER). Immunohistochemical methods to detect LMP-1 and EBNA2 were performed in the EBER positive cases. RESULTS: Two cases were EBER positive, including one non-keratinising and one undifferentiated carcinoma. Both showed identical morphology to those arising from the nasopharynx, with abundant lymphoid stroma. They were both negative for LMP-1 and EBNA2. CONCLUSIONS: EBV associated carcinoma with the morphology of lymphoepithelioma can also arise from the middle ear.