Summary The aim of the present study was to evaluate the signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT3) expression, which is constitutively active in different types of malignant tumours, in salivary gland tumours. Fifty biopsies of salivary gland tumours (9 pleomorphic adenomas, 12 adenoid cystic carcinomas, 7 epithelial–myoepithelial carcinomas, 10 polymorphous low-grade adenocarcinomas and 12 mucoepidermoid carcinomas) and 10 normal salivary glands were immunohistochemically labeled for STAT3 and Phospho-STAT3 (STAT3P). The labeled sections were qualitatively and quantitatively evaluated. The results showed that, in normal salivary gland, STAT3 was expressed in cytoplasm and STAT3P in nuclei of all tissue cells, except in large mucous acinar cells for which both antibodies were negative. In pleomorphic adenoma, the expression was the same as in normal glands. In malignant tumours, there were variations in the expression of these antibodies. The most important one was the presence of STAT3 in the nuclei of the malignant tumour cells, most evident in the cribriform-type of adenoid cystic carcinoma. Both loss and variation of STAT3P expression were also observed. The presence of STAT3 in the nuclei of malignant salivary gland tumours may represent an important event in oncogenesis probably contributing to tumour cell proliferation while blocking apoptosis. However, further investigation will be necessary to support this hypothesis.