There is a growth in the demand for clinical practice to be evidence based. Recent years have seen a rise in the number of randomized controlled clinical trials (RCTS). Such trials while acknowledged as the gold standard for evidence can be difficult to perform in surgical specialities. We have recently identified a low proportion of RCTS in the otolaryngology literature. Our aim was to identify any trend in the number of published RCTS within the ENT literature over a 30-year period and to identify which areas of our speciality lend themselves to this form of study design. A Medline search of 10 prominent journals published between 1966 and 1995 was performed. Two hundred and ninety-six RCTS were identified. Only five were published before 1980. Two hundred (71 per cent) of RCTS were in the areas of otology and rhinology. An encouraging trend is seen in RCTS within ENT literature.