Previously, we established an in vitro cellular carcinogenesis model of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) and expression microarray analysis showed that the gene encoding growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15) was significantly upregulated in this model. In this study, we confirmed that expression of GDF15 was increased both at mRNA and protein levels in a panel of OSCC lines and clinical samples from primary OSCC patients. We also observed that expression of GDF15 was positively correlated with the malignancy of the disease: a higher level of GDF15 expression indicates a higher malignant grade of OSCC. Treatment of OSCC cell line (Tca3118) with siRNA against GDF15 significantly inhibited cellular proliferation and colony formation. Based on these observations, we conclude that GDF15 is a positive gene of OSCC development and progression and GDF15 can be used as an additional marker for histopathologic evaluation of OSCC differentiation.