Desquamative gingivitis is not a disease sui generis but is a descriptive term for a condition that requires thorough clinical evaluation and histopathologic and immunopathologic studies for accurate diagnosis. The present study emphasizes this statement. Six of seven patients with "desquamative gingivitis" were placed in a category of "possible cicatricial pemphigoid." During a 3-year observation period, five of six cases evolved into unequivocal cicatricial pemphigoid. Our studies lend credence to a hypothesis that immunopathologic mechanisms are operative in some forms of desquamative gingivitis.