Head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) represent the sixth largest group among all human malignancies. However, the exact molecular mechanisms inducing the genesis and the progression of metastasis in these tumors are poorly understood. The identification of molecular alterations involved in metastasis of HNSCC might influence the value of clinical diagnostics, impact therapy strategies and finally improve the prognosis of the patients. The purpose of this study was to identify clinically relevant alterations at the transcriptional and translational levels, when comparing metastatic (N+) and non-metastatic (N0) primary HNSCC. Three transcripts HERPUD1, SLPI and RAD51 were selected for further validation based on their association with carcinogenesis and metastasis. Quantitative real-time-PCR was performed to determine the mRNA expression levels. For subsequent confirmation of the results, immunohistochemistry was performed applying a monoclonal anti-SLPI antibody on 121 HNSCC tumor specimens (N0, n=40; N+, n=81). In metastatic primary cancer, SLPI mRNA showed 5.9-fold lower expression in comparison with non-metastatic primary cancer (p=0.0092). Immunohistochemical staining revealed a fold change of -1.79 between the N+ and the N0 group (p=0.0002). The results presented here clearly indicate the repression of SLPI, measurable on both, mRNA and protein levels in metastatic primary HNSCC as compared to non-metastatic HNSCC. Therefore, it can be assumed that SLPI might have a substantial protective effect on the metastasis process of HNSCC.