We report karyotypic features of 106 short-term cultured oral squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), 51 new and 55 previously reported cases, with clonal chromosome aberrations. The major cytogenetic findings were as follows: simple karyotypic changes were present in 38 cases (36%) and 68 tumors (64%) displayed complex karyotypes. The most common numerical changes were +7, +8, +9, +16, +18, +20, and -4, -10, -13, -14, -18, -19, -21, -22, and -Y. Structural rearrangements frequently (43% of the breaks) affected the centromeric regions, resulting in the formation of isochromosomes and whole-arm translocations. Among the recurrent structural aberrations identified, the most common were i(1q), i(3q), i(5p), i(8q), del(16)(q22), and hsr. With the exception of chromosomal band 11q13, which was involved in 25 tumors, only centromeric or near-centromeric bands were commonly involved: 3p11 approximately q11 (59 cases), 8p11 approximately q11 (57), 1p11 approximately q11 (48), 13p11 approximately q11 (46), 5p11 approximately q11 (41), 14p11 approximately q11 (41), and 15p11 approximately q11 (37). Losses of genetic material dominated over gains. The most frequent imbalances included loss of 2q33 approximately qter, 3p, 4p, 6q, 8p, 10p, 11q, 13p, 14p, and 15p, and chromosomes 18, 21, 22, and Y, and gain of chromosomes 7 and 20, 8q, and 11q13. No major karyotypic differences could be discerned between the present series of oral SCC and a previously reported series of laryngeal SCC, indicating that common genetic pathways are involved in the initiation and progression of SCC irrespective of site of origin.