The management of chronic ear disease affecting the only hearing ear is a controversial subject. The relative scarcity of literature on the subject prompted us to prepare a questionnaire which was sent to European and American otologists and to review 19 cases operated at the ENT Clinic of the University of Parma, Italy, and 16 cases operated at The Baptist Memorial Hospital, Memphis, U.S.A. Surgery of cholesteatoma involving the only hearing ear is advised by all the interviewed otologists without exception, even in the presence of a labyrinthine fistula. The cases from the University of Parma were managed as follows: a classic modified radical mastoidectomy was performed in 10 cases, a staged intact canal wall tympanoplasty was done in four cases, an open tympanoplasty in three and a radical mastoidectomy in the remaining two cases. The cases from The Baptist Memorial Hospital were managed with an intact canal wall tympanoplasty (ICWT) in nine and with an open procedure in seven cases. All the otologists interviewed agreed that surgery of the only hearing ear requires particular attention and experience, and should be performed with extreme care by a very experienced surgeon.