Background In a recent pilot report, we showed that Smac/DIABLO mRNA is expressed de novo in a subset of cervical cancer patients. We have now expanded this study and analyzed Smac/DIABLO expression in the primary lesions in 109 cervical cancer patients. Methods We used immunohistochemistry of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue sections to analyze Smac/DIABLO expression in the 109 primary lesions. Seventy-eight samples corresponded to epidermoid cervical cancer and 31 to cervical adenocarcinoma. The median follow up was 46.86 months (range 10–186). Results Smac/DIABLO was expressed in more adenocarcinoma samples than squamous tumours (71% vs 50%; p = 0.037). Among the pathological variables, a positive correlation was found between Smac/DIABLO immunoreactivity and microvascular density, a marker for angiogenesis (p = 0.04). Most importantly, Smac/DIABLO immunoreactivity was associated with a higher rate of local recurrence in squamous cell carcinoma (p = 0.002, log rank test). No association was found between Smac/DIABLO and survival rates. Conclusion Smac/DIABLO expression is a potential marker for local recurrence in cervical squamous cell carcinoma patients.