Recent cytogenetic and allelic deletion analyses have demonstrated that deletions on the short arm of chromosome 3 (3p) are frequently found in various cancers, including oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCCs). This suggests that one or more tumor suppressor gene(s) for these malignancies might be located on 3p. In the present study, to further define the region(s) on 3p that harbor putative tumor suppressor gene(s) for OSCCs, we have investigated the existence of homozygous deletions (HDs) at 34 loci on 3p, in 14 OSCC cell lines. HDs were detected within the FRA3B region at 3p14.2 in only two cell lines (HSC-4 and TSU). Recently, the human fragile histidine triad (FHIT) gene was isolated from this region, abnormalities of which have been found at high frequencies in several types of human cancers. We also examined the expression of the FHIT gene, using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and exon-specific PCR, in the two OSCC cell lines which showed HDs at 3p14.2. There was no detectable expression of exon 5, which was the first protein-coding exon of FHIT gene, in HSC-4 cells, indicating that this region was homozygously deleted in this cell line. On the other hand, HD in the TSU cells did not affect the coding region of the FHIT gene, and the wild-type transcript was detected by RT-PCR. Therefore, several candidate tumor suppressor genes, including the FHIT gene, may reside in these homozygously deleted regions. To our knowledge, this is the first report of HDs on 3p in OSCCs.