Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors of the head and neck region are uncommon and may be associated with neurofibromatosis or occur in a sporadic manner. This is a retrospective review of 17 patients with these tumors who were treated at a single institution. Analysis of clinical and pathologic factors that influenced outcome was performed. There were 9 men and 8 women. Seven patients had a history of neurofibromatosis. Radiotherapy was implicated as a possible etiologic factor in 4 patients. The neck was the most frequently involved site. Overall survival at 5 years was 52%. Survival was improved for women and for patients with low-grade tumors. Age, tumor site, and size had no impact on survival. Survival was worse for patients with neurofibromatosis than for those with the sporadic form of the disease (P = 0.02). Survival was calculated by the method of Kaplan and Meier. The significance of such results was based on results of the log rank test. Local recurrence correlated with tumor size and resection margin status. No local recurrences occurred in those patients who had negative margins of resection and received adjuvant radiotherapy. Tumor grade was predictive of the development of distant metastases. Negative margins of resection are essential for obtaining local control, and the addition of adjuvant radiotherapy may be beneficial in this group. Salvage surgery for local recurrence is possible in some patients.