To date the British Salivary Gland Tumour Panel has accumulated 2569 salivary gland tumours. Of these, 2410 were primary epithelial salivary gland tumours and these formed the basis of the present study. The diagnosis of individual tumours was based on the World Health Organisation classification. Tumours were analysed according to histological type, site, age and sex. The principal site was the parotid and the combined minor (oropharyngeal) glands formed the second largest group. Pleomorphic adenomas formed the largest group of tumours in most sites, but were particularly common in the parotid. The frequency of malignant tumours increased with age after the third decade and was maximal in the eighth decade. Malignant tumours were more common in the submandibular and the minor glands than in the parotid. In the sublingual gland six out of seven tumours were malignant.