Several studies have suggested that low socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with a higher risk of oral cancer, but the association with oral premalignant lesions has not yet been explored. The aim of this study was to examine the association of education, occupation, income and SES index with oral premalignant lesions. A case-control study was conducted with data from the baseline screening of a randomized oral cancer screening trial in Kerala, India. There were a total of 927 oral leukoplakia, 170 oral submucous fibrosis, 100 erythroplakia and 115 multiple oral premalignant lesion cases and 47,773 controls. Subjects with high SES index had protective ORs for oral premalignant lesions, ranging from 0.6 to 0.7, after adjustment for age, sex, BMI, tobacco chewing, smoking, drinking and fruit/vegetable intake. Higher education levels were also associated with decreased risk of all four oral premalignant lesions. Protective ORs for income were observed for oral leukoplakia and possibly oral submucous fibrosis and erythroplakia. SES may be associated with oral premalignant lesions because of access to medical care, health related behaviors, living environment or psychosocial factors. Though the mechanism for the association is not clear, higher SES index, education and income were associated with decreased risk of oral premalignant lesions in our study.