Genomic imprinting is an inherited epigenetic phenomenon that results in parental-origin-specific gene expression in somatic cells. Relaxation or loss of this feature in certain genes has been demonstrated in several pediatric and adult neoplasms, suggesting an association with tumorigenesis. We analysed 64 primary untreated head and neck squamous carcinoma for the loss of imprinting in the IGF2 and H19 genes to determine the implications of this alteration in the development and progression of these tumors. Forty-nine (77%) of the 64 tumors were informative for imprinting analyses of these genes. IGF2 and H19 were imprinted in all normal squamous epithelium examined. Twelve (37.5%) of 32 tumors informative for H19 and 11 (40.7%) of 27 tumors informative for IGF2 manifested loss of imprinting. Ten tumors were informative for both genes, of which four maintained the constitutional imprinting and six showed loss of imprinting at either H19 or IGF2. These data suggest that loss of imprinting at the IGF2 and H19 loci play a role in the oncogenesis of head and neck carcinoma.