We tested the hypothesis that a silicone-based wire-reinforced tracheal tube with a hemispherical bevel is superior to a polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-based precurved tube with a conventional diagonal bevel for nasotracheal intubation. Eighty anesthetized paralyzed adults (ASA physical status I–II) requiring nasotracheal intubation for tonsillectomy were randomly allocated into two equal-sized groups for airway management with the silicone tracheal tube or PVC tracheal tube. Intubation was subdivided into three phases: 1) passage through the nose into the pharynx, 2) laryngoscope-guided passage into the glottic inlet, and 3) laryngoscope-guided passage into the trachea. A specific sequence of airway maneuvers was followed at each stage if it was unsuccessful. The number of attempts and intubation time were documented by an unblinded observer. The frequency of epistaxis and postoperative nasal complications was documented by blinded observers. There were no intubation failures. The number of attempts at pharyngeal (47 versus 56; P = 0.04) and tracheal (43 versus 55; P = 0.005) placement was smaller for the silicone tracheal tube, but the number of attempts at glottic placement was more (72 versus 49; P < 0.0001). Intubation time was similar. The frequency (32% versus 80%; P < 0.0001) and severity of epistaxis were less for the silicone tracheal tube. The total number of postoperative nasal symptoms was smaller for the silicone tracheal tube (10 versus 21; P < 0.05). We conclude that the pharyngeal and tracheal placement phases of nasotracheal intubation require fewer attempts with the silicone tracheal tube than the PVC tracheal tube but that the glottic placement phase requires more attempts. Nasal morbidity is less common with the silicone tracheal tube.