An ink dot staining method was used to examine epithelial migration in normal ears, in pathologic tympanic membranes, and in external auditory canal cholesteatoma. The direction of the epithelial migration was found to coincide with that of the vessels in normal ears. This suggested that epithelial migration was controlled by the vessels which supply the epidermal layer of the tympanic membrane. In pathologic tympanic membranes and external auditory canal cholesteatomas, epithelial migration was disturbed to various degrees and depended on the local conditions. In these pathologic conditions, the tympanic membrane showed less vascularization. Based on our findings, we believe that a poor blood supply is the major etiologic factor for the epithelial migratory disturbances of the tympanic membrane.