The excision repair cross-complementation group 1 (ERCC1) enzyme plays a rate-limiting role in the nucleotide excision repair pathway and is associated with resistance to platinum-based chemotherapy. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the role of ERCC1 expression as a predictive marker of survival in patients with locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) treated with cisplatin-based concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CCRT). ERCC1 expression was assessed by immunohistochemical staining. The median age of the 45 patients analysed was 56 years (range 27-75 years), and 82% were men; 73% of all specimens showed high expression of ERCC1. The overall tumour response rate after CCRT was 89%. The median follow-up was 53.6 months (95% CI, 34.5-72.7 months). The 3-year progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) rates were 58.7 and 61.3%, respectively. Univariate analyses showed that patients with low expression of ERCC1 had a significantly higher 3-year PFS (83.3 vs 49.4%, P=0.036) and OS (91.7 vs 45.5%, P=0.013) rates. Multivariate analysis showed that low expression of ERCC1 was an independent predictor for prolonged survival (HR, 0.120; 95% CI, 0.016-0.934, P=0.043). These results suggest that ERCC1 expression might be a useful predictive marker of locally advanced SCCHN in patients treated with cisplatin-based CCRT.