Chromosomal imbalances in 113 primary head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs) determined by comparative genomic hybridization were correlated with patients survival using custom-made computer software which enabled the assessment of individual chromosomal loci. The Kaplan-Meier analysis revealed that overrepresentations of 2q12, 3q21-29, 6p21.1, 11q13, 14q23, 14q24, 14q31, 14q32, 15q24, 16q22, and deletions of 8p21-22 and 18q11.2 were significantly associated with both shorter disease-free interval and disease-specific survival in this tumor collective. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression models consistently identified the gains of 3q21-29, 11q13, and the loss of 8p21-22 as independent prognostic markers carrying a higher significance than the nodal status as the only clinicopathological parameter with statistical importance. In addition, these three markers allowed a molecular dissection of the patients with low clinical risk (pN0 and pT2 tumors). Thus, the genomic data being derived from the evaluation of primary HNSCC enabled a stratification of the patients into subgroups with different survival highlighting the necessity of a genetically based tumor classification for refining diagnosis and treatment of HNSCC patients.