Australian Aboriginal children experience early, persistent and severe middle ear infections. We conducted a review of the medical literature that addressed acute otitis media (AOM) in Australian Aboriginal children. Comparisons were made with the recent guidelines on the diagnosis and management of AOM prepared by the American Academies of Pediatrics and Family Physicians (AAP & AAFP 2004). Otitis media in Aboriginal children living in remote communities begins in the first 3 months of life following early bacterial colonisation. Young children with persistent signs of suppurative disease (bulging of the tympanic membrane or middle ear discharge) are probably most at risk of developing chronic suppurative otitis media.