Tumor suppressor genes APC, RB1, and DCC, as well as genes localized to 3p and 11q, have been implicated in the development of a number of human tumors. To determine whether allelic deletions occur at these loci in squamous cell carcinomas (SSCs) of the head and neck, 25 primary, 1 metastatic, and 3 recurrent tumors, along with the corresponding constitutional tissues, were analyzed by using a battery of polymorphic DNA markers. For two primary tumors, we also analyzed subsequent metastatic tumors of the lung. Polymerase chain reaction-based restriction fragment length polymorphism studies demonstrated loss of heterozygosity for the APC gene in 2 of 12 (17%), the RB1 gene in 5 of 22 (23%), and the DCC gene in 5 of 13 (38%) informative cases. Alleles on chromosomes 3p, 11q13, and 18q21.1 were lost in 7 of 20 (35%), 9 of 23 (39%), and 4 of 17 (24%) informative cases, respectively. A breakpoint was identified within the chromosomal region 3p13-21.2 in a SCC of the tongue. Breakpoints within 11q13 were identified in 2 additional tumors. Thus, allelic deletions of DCC, 3p, and 11q13 appear to be common in head and neck cancers, suggesting that these genes play a critical and complex role in the development of these tumors. Furthermore, the present study provides definitive evidence for a tumor suppressor gene at chromosome band 11q13 and localizes this gene to the INT2-D11S533 interval for future cloning and sequencing.