Claudin-7 belongs to the claudin family, which consists of 24 subtypes of essential tight junction (TJ) integral membrane proteins with molecular weights of 20-27 kDa. We investigated the interrelationship between clinicopathological findings and claudin-7 expression in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). Using immunohistochemical techniques to examine the expression levels of claudin-7 in 67 cases of OSCC, claudin-7 expression was detected in 35 (52.2%) of the 67 cases. We also compared the clinicopathological features of the OSCC cases with claudin-7 expression levels. Moreover, six cell lines with various invasive properties were investigated in vitro to compare mRNA and protein levels of claudin-7 using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and the western blotting method. Decreased claudin-7 expression correlated significantly with T-category (p<0.05), lymph node metastasis (p<0.01), and mode of invasion (p<0.001). Patients with positive claudin-7 expression had a significantly better prognosis (p<0.05). Claudin-7 protein and mRNA levels were lower in the HOC313 and TSU cells, which have higher invasive potentials compared with other cell lines. These results suggest that loss of claudin-7 expression is associated closely with invasion and lymph metastasis and is an unfavorable prognostic factor in patients with OSCC.