A high rate of errors of citation and quotation has been reported in the publications of many medical specialties. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of citation and quotation errors in otolaryngology/head and neck surgery journals. A retrospective analysis was performed based on the first issue for 1997 of each of four journals: Laryngoscope; Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology; Clinical Otolaryngyology; and Journal of Laryngology and Otology. A sample of 50 references from each journal was randomly selected and each was checked for accuracy against the original referenced paper. Citation errors were categorized as major, intermediate or minor and quotation errors as major or minor. Citation errors occurred in 37.5% of the references, 11.9% of which were considered major errors. Quotation errors occurred in 17%, with 11.1% major errors. This prevalence is similar to the established error rate in medical literature.