The bacteriology of maxillary sinuses with normal endoscopic findings is reported in this study. When transantral sinoscopy was used to examine the maxillary sinuses, the whole maxillary sinus was inspected with different-angle endoscopes. If no lesion was seen over the whole maxillary sinus mucosa, no secretion existed in the maxillary sinus cavity, and the maxillary sinus ostium was wide open, the maxillary sinus was considered endoscopically normal. The bacteriology of these endoscopically normal maxillary sinuses was studied by passing cotton-tipped sticks through the cannula to collect swab specimens. In some cases, a biopsy forceps was also passed to obtain mucosal specimens. The specimens were sent to the laboratory for aerobic and anaerobic cultures. Between July 1990 and May 1998, 83 swab and 31 mucosal specimens were collected from 69 patients who had not taken any antibiotic within 10 days before endoscopy. The culture rates were 62.3 per cent (35/53) from swab specimens and 57.1 per cent (eight out of 14) from mucosal specimens in patients with the diagnosis of chronic paranasal sinusitis, and were 46.7 per cent (14/30) from swab specimens and 41. 2 per cent (seven out of 17) from mucosal specimens in patients without this diagnosis. This study shows that endoscopically normal maxillary sinuses are not sterile.