This study examined the impact of recurrent otitis media on mothers' perceptions of themselves and of their 2-year-old children. Fifty-two mothers of children with and without histories of recurrent otitis media completed measures that rated the level of stress in the mother-child relationship at two points in time. The mothers of children who experienced six or more episodes of otitis media in the first 2 years of life rated their children as significantly more demanding at age two and at follow-up 6 months later than did the mothers of children who experienced no more than one episode of the illness. At the first point in time, these mothers also rated themselves as significantly more depressed and less competent than did control mothers, a pattern that was maintained at the follow-up. Findings of the study suggest that recurrent otitis media early in life may contribute to adverse perceptions of child and self that may persist for some time after the child has been relatively disease free and further suggest that parental perceptions may mediate relationships between early recurrent otitis media and later developmental outcomes.