Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most frequent microbe causing middle ear infection. The pathophysiology of pneumococcal otitis media has been characterized by measurement of local inflammatory mediators such as inflammatory cells, lysozyme, oxidative metabolic products, and inflammatory cytokines. The role of cytokines in bacterial infection has been elucidated with animal models, and interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, and IL-8 and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) are recognized as being important local mediators in acute inflammation. We characterized middle ear inflammatory responses in the chinchilla otitis media model after injecting a very small number of viable pneumococci into the middle ear, similar to the natural course of infection. Middle ear fluid (MEF) concentrations of IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, and TNF-α were measured by using anti-human cytokine enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay reagents. IL-1β showed the earliest peak, at 6 h after inoculation, whereas IL-6, IL-8, and TNF-α concentrations were increasing 72 h after pneumococcal inoculation. IL-6, IL-8, and TNF-α but not IL-1β concentrations correlated significantly with total inflammatory cell numbers in MEF, and all four cytokines correlated significantly with MEF neutrophil concentration. Several intercytokine correlations were significant. Cytokines, therefore, participate in the early middle ear inflammatory response to S. pneumoniae.