The analysis of saliva has been proposed as a potentially rapid, non-invasive method to monitor and diagnose patients with oral disease. In this study we measured salivary endothelin-1 (ET-1) levels in patients diagnosed with oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) prior to treatment. We demonstrate significantly elevated salivary ET-1 levels in the oral SCC group (4.37+/-1.35pg/ml), relative to the control group (1.16+/-0.29pg/ml). ET-1 and ET-1 mRNA were also measured in oral SCC tissue specimens and compared to normal oral epithelial controls. The concentration of ET-1 in the oral SCC specimens was 17.87+/-4.0pg/ml and in the normal epithelial controls the concentration of ET-1 was 5.43+/-2.5pg/ml. ET-1 mRNA was significantly overexpressed in 80% (8/10) of the oral SCC specimens. Our results demonstrate the potential utility of salivary analysis for ET-1 levels to monitor patients at risk for oral SCC.