We investigated the expression of IL-10 in oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) specimens by an immunohistochemical technique. Of 58 SCC, 13 (22%) and 35 (60%) cases showed intense and moderate positive staining of IL-10, respectively. There was no association between the staining of IL-10 and clinicopathological features. However, the patients with intense staining of IL-10 had a significantly lower overall survival rate than those with moderate or negative staining of IL-10 (P = 0.019). In addition, the patients with intense staining of IL-10 had the highest score of platelet-derived endothelial cell growth factor (PD-ECGF), which is established as a poor prognostic indicator (P = 0.0105). These results suggested that IL-10 contributes to the clinical outcome of oral and oropharyngeal SCC.