In this randomized, blinded, multicenter comparison study, 377 infants and children with acute otitis media (AOM) received a 10-day course of an oral suspension of one of the following: cefuroxime axetil (CAE), 30 mg/kg/day; cefaclor (CEC), 40 mg/kg/day; or amoxicillin-clavulanate potassium (AMX-CL), 40 mg/kg/day. Clinical efficacy was determined by pneumatic otoscopy and tympanometric testing 3 to 5, 11 to 14, and 22 to 26 days after the initiation of therapy. There was a statistically significant difference among the three treatment groups with respect to clinical outcome; more patients in the CAE group (62%) than in the CEC group (46%) or the AMX-CL group (52%) had complete resolution of signs and symptoms of AOM (including effusion). Paired comparisons revealed a significant difference in efficacy between CAE and CEC and a nearly significant difference between AMX-CL and CEC. Taste acceptability was highest for CEC and lowest for this formulation of CAE. Significantly more patients in the AMX-CL group than in the CAE or CEC group had a side effect, primarily diarrhea, vomiting, or diaper rash. We conclude that CAE suspension has greater clinical efficacy than CEC and fewer side effects than AMX-CL.