To investigate whether tonsillar size was related to human morphology, age or duration of disease, 100 consecutive patients undergoing tonsillectomy for recurrent tonsillitis were investigated. The lengths, widths and volumes of each resected tonsil were measured and compared with patient characteristics ascertained on the day before surgery. The volume of tonsillar tissue was directly related to height (p = 0.46, P less than 0.001) and weight (p = 0.45, P less than 0.001) and age, but at any age (or body size) there was a wide range of tonsil size. A weak inverse relationship was found with the duration of recurrent tonsillitis. Tonsil size is of no relevance in the assessment of recurrent tonsillitis or adenoid hypertrophy.