Chronic middle-ear disease is highly prevalent among Australian Aboriginal people, and many undergo surgical treatment. However, the outcomes of surgery in this group have not been fully evaluated. This is a descriptive study of operations for middle-ear disease (excluding grommets) on Aboriginal patients in Kimberley hospitals between 1 October 1986 and 31 December 1995. Logistic regression was used to model predictors of surgical outcome. Success was defined by an intact tympanic membrane and air-bone gap of 25 dB at review at, or later than, six months post-operation. A success rate of 53 per cent was observed; increasing age was the only variable predictive of success. Successful outcomes were more likely in adults and children aged >10 years, however, this does not take into account the necessity of hearing for language acquisition and learning. Dedicated resources must be allocated for post-operative follow-up of Aboriginal patients so that much-needed, rigorous evaluations of ENT surgery can be conducted.