Cancer metastasis is not a random process and different cancer types have favorite metastatic sites. Recent studies on metastasis have focused on chemoattraction, particularly on the role of chemokines. Therefore, in this study we investigated whether CXCR4 (receptor for stromal cell-derived factor-1) is expressed in squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue. For this purpose, immunohistochemical staining was performed on 26 sections obtained from 23 patients (15 patients having tongue tumor without lymph node metastasis and eight patients having lymph node metastasis). All tumor cells expressed CXCR4, whereas normal mucosa of the tongue had no or faint expression CXCR4. Metastatic tumor cells in lymph nodes had stronger expression than primary tongue tumor cells. Our data raises the possibility that CXCR4 could be involved in lymph node metastasis of oral squamous cell carcinoma. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.