Acute otitis media (AOM) and viral upper respiratory tract infections (URIs) represent the two most common diseases affecting the human population, and account for substantial patient morbidity and health care costs. Epidemiologic and experimental studies suggest that URIs play a causal role in the pathogenesis of AOM. Specifically, viruses can either invade the middle ear (ME) space and invoke an inflammatory response that culminates in ME effusion formation and consequent symptoms, or URIs might cause eustachian-tube dysfunction, resulting in negative ME pressures and subsequent ME effusion (hydrops ex vacuo theory). The events responsible for the inflammatory response of the human ME following viral exposure have not been well characterized. Although many prophylactic and therapeutic interventions have been evaluated for the treatment of AOM, the information on virus-specific interventions is sparse. In this article, the epidemiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and management of viral otitis media are reviewed.