There are a couple of things that I think could be causing this. If you recently installed any new programs one of them could be causing a conflict with IE, restoring WinXP to a previous point before your problems started could fix it. Two, it is also possible that some how you received a virus. Run your anti-virus and see if you come up with anything.
Installing all of your Windows and IE updates and defrag your harddrive will not hurt either.
No other posters were flamed, ridiculed, persecuted, belittled, berated, judged or otherwise in the making of the above-posted reply. It is with respect all are asked to observe this and to provide the same courtesy bestowed upon those who have posted and those who will post. Yada, Yada, doublespeak and so forth!