The aim of this retrospective review is the study of the prognostic factors related to cervical metastases of squamous cell carcinoma from an unknown primary tumour. Sixty-seven patients were selected and surgery and postoperative radiotherapy was the treatment used. Nineteen tumours were subsequently found (27%). The 5-year actuarial survival rate of all patients was 22%. Survival rates were significantly related to lymph node stages and to the histological degree of differentiation. Nevertheless, actuarial survival rates were not related to the appearance of the primary tumour (P = 0.07). In our series, the single most important prognostic factor was the neck stage. The value close to statistical significance observed when the primary tumour subsequently appeared (P = 0.07), suggests that this could worsen the prognosis.