The fracture of acrylic resin dentures is an unresolved problem in removable prosthodontics despite many efforts to determine its cause. Unfavourable occlusion could be playing an important role in the fracture of the denture. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of occlusal contact localization on the stress distribution in complete maxillary denture bases utilizing two-dimensional finite element analysis. The results of this study have shown that maximum compressive stresses in a complete maxillary denture under functional masticatory forces concentrates always on the artificial tooth/denture base junction irrespective to the occlusal contact localization. Tensile stresses were observed in areas toward the midline, although the midline itself usually had lower stresses. Shifting the occlusal contacts to a more buccal localization resulted in an increase of the calculated stresses. As a conclusion, it can be speculated that the buccal placement of the occlusal contacts may play a role in the fatigue fracture of the complete maxillary denture. © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.