Previous studies have shown that arachidonic acid (AA) metabolites are important in the pathogenesis of otitis media with effusion. The AA metabolites in 4 different experimental models for otitis media were analyzed, and the effect of anti-inflammatory drugs was studied. Purulent otitis media was induced in rats by inoculation of Streptococcus pneumoniae in the tympanic bulla, serous otitis media by blocking the tympanal orifice of the eustachian tube, and mucoid otitis media by combining the two procedures. Middle ear effusion was also induced by stimulating the external auditory canal with cold air. Indomethacin and hydrocortisone were used to inhibit AA metabolism in the latter model. Lipoxygenase products dominated in the purulent and cold air otitis media models. Cyclooxygenase products dominated in the mucoid and serous models. Indomethacin inhibited accumulation of middle ear effusion in the cold air otitis media model, whereas hydrocortisone did not Apart from AA metabolites, other mechanisms and mediators appear to be responsible for the increased vessel permeability observed in the cold air otitis media model, such as interactions between mast cells and nerves in the middle ear mucosa.