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To evaluate the discriminative value of conventional magnetic resonance imaging between benign and malignant palatal tumors.Conventional magnetic resonance imaging features of 130 patients with palatal tumors confirmed by histopathologic examination were retrospectively reviewed. Clinical data and imaging findings were assessed between benign and malignant tumors and between benign and low-grade malignant salivary gland tumors. The variables that were significant in differentiating benign from malignant lesions were further identified using logistic regression analysis. Moreover, imaging features of each common palatal histologic entity were statistically analyzed with the rest of the tumors to define their typical imaging features.Older age, partially defined and ill-defined margins, and absence of a capsule were highly suggestive of malignant palatal tumors, especially ill-defined margins (β = 6.400). The precision in determining malignant palatal tumors achieved a sensitivity of 92.8% and a specificity of 85.6%. In addition, irregular shape, ill-defined margins, lack of a capsule, perineural spread, and invasion of surrounding structures were more often associated with low-grade malignant salivary gland tumors.Conventional magnetic resonance imaging is useful for differentiating benign from malignant palatal tumors as well as benign salivary gland tumors from low-grade salivary gland malignancies.