This study reviewed 24 cases of parapharyngeal space tumour treated at Kurume University Hospital between 1990 and 2007. Histological diagnoses were generally obtained from the excised tumour (22/24). Seventy-seven per cent of the parapharyngeal space tumours were benign and 23 per cent were malignant. Thirty-eight per cent (eight of 22) of these tumours were pleomorphic adenomas and 23 per cent (five of 22) were schwannomas. A transparotidectomy and transcervical approach were used in 88 per cent (15/17) of benign tumours. A mandibular swing approach was used for one malignant tumour. Post-operative complications were identified in 16 of 22 patients. The most common complication, facial nerve paralysis, was identified in eight patients, and seven of these patients demonstrated first bite syndrome. In consideration of the high incidence of post-operative complications, the surgical approach should therefore be carefully selected when treating patients with parapharyngeal space tumours.