Because the apoptotic process appears to be involved in the response-to-treatment of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, we investigated the prognostic value of the expression of three apoptosis-associated genes (p53, Bax, and Bcl-2) in tumor biopsies from patients with locally advanced head and neck carcinoma. Using specific monoclonal antibodies, immunohistochemical staining for p53, Bax, and Bcl-2 was performed on tumor material from 43 patients before their scheduled adjuvant chemoradiotherapy. Results indicated that the response to treatment was 83.7% (36 of 43 patients). Bax staining was positive in 8 cases (19.5%), p53 in 19 (47.5%), and Bcl-2 in 4 patients (10.8%). There were no statistically significant correlations between any of the apoptosis genes assayed and the patients' response to treatment or to overall survival. In the univariate statistical analysis, response-to-treatment was the only significant variable (p = 0.013) predictive of survival rate. These results suggest that p53, Bax, and Bcl-2 expression are not significant predictive factors of response to induction treatment in locally advanced head and neck carcinoma and that their routine use as prognostic markers cannot be recommended.