One hundred and ninety-three consecutive children with bilateral secretory otitis media were treated by adenoidectomy, bilateral paracentesis, and evacuation of middle ear effusion, but with insertion of a grommet in the right ear only. At follow-up one to three years later, the audiometric and tympanometric results were similar in right and left ears. The primary advantage of grommet insertion was normalization of the hearing ability for as long as the grommet was functioning. Thus, only 1% of the ears with grommets had hearing losses exceeding 30 dB HL, whereas this occurred in about 20% of ears without grommets. The adverse effects of grommet insertion included periodic aural discharge during the functioning period of the grommet in 14% and tympanosclerosis of the drum in 48%. In the group of ears treated with paracentesis only, tympanosclerosis occurred in 10%. However, reinsertion of grommets was indicated in 10% of right ears, and 23% of left ears required grommets as well. Of the various pre- and perioperative factors analyzed, only a granulating mucous membrane and copious middle ear effusion could be correlated to frequent and protracted episodes of secretory otitis that required repeated treatment. The implications of these findings are discussed.