Background. Otitis media, for which antibiotic treatment failure is increasingly common, is a leading pediatric public health problem. Methods. In vitro and in vivo studies using the chinchilla model of otitis media were performed using a β-lactamase-producing strain of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi 86-028NP) and an isogenic mutant deficient in β-lactamase production (NTHi 86-028NP bla) to define the roles of biofilm formation and β-lactamase production in antibiotic resistance. Coinfection studies were done with Streptococcus pneumoniae to determine if NTHi provides passive protection by means of β-lactamase production, biofilm formation, or both. Results. NTHi 86-028NP bla was resistant to amoxicillin killing in biofilm studies in vitro; however, it was cleared by amoxicillin treatment in vivo, whereas NTHi 86-028NP was unaffected in either system. NTHi 86-028NP protected pneumococcus in vivo in both the effusion fluid and bullar homogenate. NTHi 86-028NP bla and pneumococcus were both recovered from the surface-associated bacteria of amoxicillin-treated animals; only NTHi 86-028NP bla was recovered from effusion. Conclusions. Based on these studies, we conclude that NTHi provides passive protection for S. pneumoniae in vivo through 2 distinct mechanisms: production of β-lactamase and formation of biofilm communities. © The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. All rights reserved.