BACKGROUND: Recent advances in understanding complex tumor interactions have led to the discovery of an association between inflammation and cancer, in particular for colon and lung cancer, but only a very few have dealt with oral cancer. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to investigate the significance of preoperative C-reactive protein (CRP) levels as a parameter for development of lymph node metastases or recurrence. MATERIALS AND METHODS: In 278 patients with oral cancer, preoperative CRP levels were compared with development of recurrence and metastasis. RESULTS: In 27 patients from the normal CRP group, and in 21 patients from the elevated CRP group, local recurrence was observed. Concerning lymph node metastases, 37 patients were in the normal group and 9 patients in the elevated CRP group. No significant correlation could be found between elevated CRP levels and metastasis (p = 0.468) or recurrence (p = 0.137). CONCLUSION: Our findings do not appear to support a correlation between preoperative CRP levels and development of recurrence or metastases. In further studies, CRP levels in precancerous lesions and in Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) positive patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) should be studied.