In this study we performed detailed deletion mapping of two broad regions in the short arm (p) of chromosome 3 (i.e., 3p21.2 approximately p22 and 3p12 approximately p13), which were shown to have a high rate of deletions in head and neck lesions in our previous study. Using 18 highly polymorphic microsatellite markers, the deletion mapping was done in 35 dysplastic lesions and 46 primary head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) samples from Indian patients. Within the 21.6-megabase (Mb) region of 3p21.1 approximately p21.33, we have identified four areas (D1, 3p21.33; D2, 3p21.32; D3, 3p21.31; D4, 3p21.1) that showed a high frequency (46%-69%) of deletions in our samples. In the 3p12 approximately p13 region, we narrowed down the deletion within the 0.7-Mb region (D5, 3p12.1). Among these five regions (D1-D5), deletion in D3 is suggested to be necessary for the development of early dysplastic lesions, whereas the deletion in D2 may be necessary for dysplastic lesions and tumor progression. On the other hand, the deletion in D5 is significantly associated with progression of the lesions from mild/moderate to severe dysplasia. The deletions in D1 and D4, however, are required for tumor progression. As in our previous study, microsatellite size alterations (MA) were observed to be high in and around the highly deleted regions and gradually increased during the progression of the tumor. Loss of normal copy/interstitial alterations of chromosome 3 in the late stages of the tumor as well as rare biallelic alterations around the highly deleted regions also were seen in our samples. Human papilloma virus infection has been found to be associated with the deletion in the D5 region and MA in the D1 region, whereas nodal involvement of the tumor correlated only with the MA in D1 and D5. Thus, this study indicates that multiple tumor suppressor genes whose differential deletions are associated with the development of HNSCC may be present in 3p.