We screened 73 primary head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) specimens for loss of heterozygosity (LOH) on chromosome 14q. Analysis of 20 polymorphic microsatellite markers identified 29 (40%) HNSCCs exhibiting LOH of 14q in at least one locus. Six tumors had probable monosomy of 14q, displaying allelic loss for all informative markers tested, and 23 demonstrated partial losses on 14q. Fine mapping with 1-10 additional markers revealed two poorly defined regions of loss (4-7 cM) at 14q13-21 and 14q31-32.1 in seven tumors. In 53 patients with previously untreated tumors treated with curative intent, LOH of 14q in these tumors correlated with poor survival. Compared to patients with tumors that retain heterozygosity of 14q, those with 14q LOH had a 3-fold increased risk of death in multivariate analysis (hazards ratio, 3.2; 95% confidence interval = 1.2-8.4). These data have confirmed a high frequency of chromosome 14q loss in HNSCC and suggest that LOH of any region on chromosome 14q is an indicator of poor outcome.