The progression and metastasis of solid tumors, including head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), have been related to the behavior of a small subpopulation of cancer stem cells. Here, we have established a highly malignant HNSCC cell line, SASVO3, from primary tumors using three sequential rounds of xenotransplantation. SASVO3 possesses enhanced tumorigenic ability both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, SASVO3 exhibits properties of cancer stem cells, including that increased the abilities of sphere-forming, the number of side population cells, the potential of transplanted tumor growth and elevated expression of the stem cell marker Bmi1. Injection of SASVO3 into the tail vein of nude mice resulted in lung metastases. These results are consistent with the postulate that the malignant and/or metastasis potential of HNSCC cells may reside in a stem-like subpopulation.