OBJECTIVES To explore the prognostic role of CK19 expression in squamous cell carcinomas within a well-defined cohort of oral tongue cancer patients. METHODS In our retrospective study, we investigated 129 patients with tongue cancer that had suitable material for inclusion in a tissue microarray (TMA). Where possible, samples were taken from central and peripheral regions of the tumor to generate a representative sample of the tumor. The expression level of CK19 was assessed by immunohistochemical staining. RESULTS Expression of CK19 in squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue was identified as a negative predictor for overall survival (OS; p<0.000) and disease specific survival (DSS; p=0.001). No significant difference could be shown for disease free survival (DFS) between patients with positive and negative CK19 staining (p=.094). CONCLUSION This is the first description of the highly significant role of CK19 in a selective, organ specific head and neck cancer cohort. Our results are of special importance against the background that CK19 positive carcinomas revealed a significantly poorer prognosis and therefore emphasize its prognostic and possible diagnostic role in tongue cancer.