In order to better define the anatomical and clinical importance of the deep parotid lymph nodes, the surgical specimens obtained from a series of 18 total parotidectomies were evaluated. In 10 cases primary parotid pathology was found, whereas in the remaining eight cases metastases to glandular lymph nodes were present. One hundred and forty-nine lymph nodes, in all, were identified (range 3-14, average 8.2, mean 8), 118 located in the superficial parotid lobe (range 3-11, average 6.5, mean 7), and 31 in the deep lobe (range 0-5, average 1.7, mean 2). In the group of patients with oncological pathology, of the total 64 lymph nodes examined, 21 were found to be sites of metastasis, 11 in the superficial lobe, and 10 in the deep lobe. The above findings confirm the anatomical and oncological importance of the deep parotid lymph nodes, and highlight the necessity of a total parotidectomy in all cases in which intraglandular spread of lymph node metastases is certain or suspect.