Between 1960 and 1980, 71 cases of adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) were reviewed according to treatment modality and clinical course. Histologic review of pathologic slides was performed to classify the tumors into their predominant histologic pattern (tubular, cribriform, solid). The predominant histologic patterns of the tumors were equally divided between tubular and cribriform. Very few were classified as a solid pattern. In the patients receiving the same type of therapy (surgery and irradiation), the cribriform and tubular variants of ACC demonstrated no difference in the rate of distant metastases and overall survival. The cribriform variant demonstrated a significantly worse prognosis in terms of local recurrence rate. The patients who had a solid histologic pattern of ACC appeared to have an overall worse prognosis in terms of distant metastases and long-term survival. The long-term survival of patients with ACC may be related to the development of distant metastases despite local control.