ABSTRACT: Whether cholesteatoma development in chronic otitis media may be part of a generalized hyperproliferation of the epidermis was examined. The renewal time of the stratum corneum was determined in 24 patients presenting with chronic middle ear disease with cholesteatoma. These patients were compared with two control groups: one with chronic otitis media without cholesteatoma and one with otosclerosis. Dansyl chloride was applied to the back of the shoulder beneath occlusive patches for 2 days and the time it took the fluorescing label under ultraviolet light to disappear was measured. The depth of stratum corneum was determined with a standardized tape by measuring the number of strippings until no remaining fluorescing label was visible. This was also analysed with punch biopsies and fluorescence microscopy. However the cholesteatoma patients demonstrated no significant alterations in any of the studied parameters in comparison with the control groups. Based on our techniques and the data obtained there is no evidence of an epidermal hyperproliferative predisposition in patients with cholesteatoma.