Opinions are divided over the validity of total glossectomy without associated total laryngectomy for advanced carcinoma of the tongue. This retrospective study evaluates the oncologic and functional results obtained in 80 patients who underwent total glossectomy as a primary procedure or as salvage surgery. Satisfactory swallowing ability was obtained in 41 patients, and speech was understandable in 49 patients. The survival rate at 1 year was 65%, with early recurrence of the disease, which was especially frequent in patients with prior radiotherapy, being the major cause of death. The study confirms the poor prognosis of cases with mandibular involvement, and the fact that partial laryngectomy, when required, impairs functional results. In the light of the authors' experience, total glossectomy without total laryngectomy should only be undertaken in motivated and well-supported patients able to accomplish the difficult rehabilitation process.