Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) is a leading causative agent of otitis media. Much of the inflammation occurring during NTHi disease is initiated by lipooligosaccharides (LOS) on the bacterial surface. Phosphorylcholine (PCho) is added to some LOS forms in a phase-variable manner, and these PCho+ variants predominate in vivo. Thus, we asked whether this modification confers some advantage during infection. Virulence of an otitis media isolate (NTHi strain 86-028NP) was compared with that of an isogenic PCho transferase (licD) mutant using a chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera) model of otitis media. Animals infected with NTHi 86-028NP licD demonstrated increased early inflammation and a delayed increase in bacterial counts compared to animals infected with NTHi 86-028NP. LOS purified from chinchilla-passed NTHi 86-028NP had increased PCho content compared to LOS purified from the inoculum. Both strains were recovered from middle ear fluids as long as 14 days postinfection. Biofilms were macroscopically visible in the middle ears of euthanized animals infected with NTHi 86-028NP 7 days and 14 days postchallenge. Conversely, less dense biofilms were observed in animals infected with NTHi 86-028NP licD 7 days postinfection, and none of the animals infected with NTHi 86-028NP licD had a visible biofilm by 14 days. Fluorescent antibody staining revealed PCho+ variants within biofilms, similar to our prior results with tissue culture cells in vitro (S. L. West-Barnette, A. Rockel, and W. E. Swords, Infect. Immun. 74:1828-1836, 2006). Animals coinfected with equal proportions of both strains had equal persistence of each strain and somewhat greater severity of disease. We thus conclude that PCho promotes NTHi infection and persistence by reducing the host inflammatory response and by promoting formation of stable biofilm communities. Copyright © 2007, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.