Objectives. The aims of the study were: (i) to determine the necessity for diagnostic tonsillectomy in children with asymmetrically enlarged tonsils; (ii) to determine the accuracy of clinical assessment of tonsillar asymmetry; and (iii) to determine how to manage children with clinical tonsillar asymmetry in a developing-world practice. Methods. A prospective study was carried out at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, over an 8-month period. All children undergoing tonsillectomy or adenotonsillectomy had a clinical assessment of tonsil symmetry done, and all tonsil and adenoid specimens were examined histologically. The maximum diameter and volume of the resected tonsils were measured. A comparison was done of true tonsil asymmetry in patients with asymmetrical tonsils and a subgroup of matched controls with symmetrical tonsils.