We investigated the distribution of basement membrane zone (BMZ) components collagen type IV, collagen type VII, and fibronectin in human middle ear cholesteatoma, auditory meatal skin, and middle ear mucosa using both immunohistochemical and ultrastructural methods. Collagen type IV immunoreactivity of skin and middle ear mucosa is continuous in the BMZ, whereas cholesteatoma frequently showed absent immunoreactivity or focal discontinuities. Collagen type VII immunoreactivity is detected similarly within the BMZ of cholesteatoma and skin. Fibronectin immunoreactivity is observed within the dermoepithelial junction of skin and middle ear mucosa. In cholesteatoma, however, fibronectin immunoreactivity is markedly increased within the extrinsic BMZ and the subepithelial connective tissue. The ultrastructural arrangement of the BMZ of cholesteatoma is like that of skin; however, it exhibits distinct alterations of the lamina fibroreticularis and lamina densa. Our results outline cholesteatoma as a disease with disturbed cell matrix interactions analogous to those of wound reepithelialization.