We studied a new approach to the prevention of acute otitis media through the administration of influenza vaccine to 187 day-care center children aged 1 to 3 years before the influenza A epidemic of 1988-1989. The control group consisted of 187 unvaccinated children of similar age and background. During the 6-week study period, influenza A infection was diagnosed in five (3%) of 187 vaccinees and in 29 (16%) of 187 controls. Acute otitis media developed in three (60%) of five vaccinees with an influenza A infection compared with 18 (67%) of 27 controls (excluded were two children with a double viral infection). The incidence of acute otitis media associated with influenza A was reduced by 83% in the vaccinees. The total number of children with acute otitis media in the vaccine group was 35, compared with 55 in the control group, disclosing a 36% reduction among the vaccinees. We conclude that influenza vaccination decreases the incidence of acute otitis media in children during an influenza A epidemic, suggesting also that other vaccines against respiratory viruses may be an effective way to reduce the incidence of acute otitis media.