The role of mesenchyme in the temporal bone is still poorly understood. A microscopic study of residual mesenchyme was undertaken in temporal bones of children from birth to 5 years of age. Residual mesenchyme was found to be located in the mastoid antrum and epitympanum more often than in the mesotympanum. The amount of mesenchymal tissue remaining in the temporal bones decreased with increasing age. Persistence of mesenchyme in the temporal bone was related to congenital morphologic ear anomalies and syndromes. There was also an association evident with pulmonary disease, but not with congenital heart defects. Persistent mesenchyme was also found to be significantly associated with chronic middle ear inflammation, and in cases of unilateral otitis media the ear with otitis media had more residual mesenchyme than the non-otitis media ear.