Thirty-two composite resections were carried out in the Department of Otolaryngology at Groote Schuur Hospital for oral and oro-pharyngeal squamous carcinoma over the 10-year period, 1977–1986. Three patients were lost to review but all others were followed up to death or to five years. Twenty-seven patients underwent surgery as their primary procedure and five for recurrence after primary radiotherapy. The overall survival was 16 patients at three years and eight at five years. Only one of the five patients who underwent salvage surgery after failed radiotherapy was alive at five years and all five experienced serious postoperative complications. All thosesurviving over five years had had either N0 or N1, disease at the time of presentation for surgery.