We measured the expression of the p53 nuclear protein and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in 46 biopsy samples from patients with advanced head and neck cancer treated with induction combination chemotherapy of 5-fluorouracil, cisplatin, and paclitaxel. Tumour expression of p53 protein was analysed with the monoclonal D07 antibody and EGFR with monoclonal H11 antibody. The overall response, defined as complete (CR) and partial response (PR) rates to treatment, was 88%. p53 positive staining was significantly more frequent in patients who did not respond to the induction treatment. EGFR expression failed to show any correlation with the response rate. Multivariate analysis indicated that a tumour location in the oral cavity together with p53 expression combined with moderate-to-high EGFR staining were independent prognostic factors of a shorter disease-free survival (DFS). Location of the tumour in the oral cavity and EGFR expression had independent prognostic value for overall survival (OS). We conclude that the EGFR status and an oral cavity location of the tumour have independent prognostic value in patients with advanced head and neck carcinoma treated with induction chemotherapy. The p53 status appears to be a determinant of the tumour chemo-sensitivity in advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). The presence in the tumour of a p53-positive stain and moderate-to-high staining of EGFR is associated with a shorter DFS and time to treatment failure (TTF) probably reflecting a more aggressive tumour phenotype.