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To conduct a multivariate analysis of a large cohort of oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (OCSCC) cases for independent predictors of local recurrence (LR) and overall survival (OS), with emphasis on the relationship between (1) prognosis and (2) main specimen permanent margins and intraoperative tumor bed frozen margins.Retrospective cohort study.Tertiary academic head and neck cancer program.This study included 426 patients treated with OCSCC resection between 2005 and 2014 at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Patients underwent excision of OCSCC with intraoperative tumor bed frozen margin sampling and main specimen permanent margin assessment. Multivariate analysis of the data set to predict LR and OS was performed.Independent predictors of LR included nodal involvement, histologic grade, and main specimen permanent margin status. Specifically, the presence of a positive margin (odds ratio, 6.21; 95% CI, 3.3-11.9) or <1-mm/carcinoma in situ margin (odds ratio, 2.41; 95% CI, 1.19-4.87) on the main specimen was an independent predictor of LR, whereas intraoperative tumor bed margins were not predictive of LR on multivariate analysis. Similarly, independent predictors of OS on multivariate analysis included nodal involvement, extracapsular extension, and a positive main specimen margin. Tumor bed margins did not independently predict OS.The main specimen margin is a strong independent predictor of LR and OS on multivariate analysis. Intraoperative tumor bed frozen margins do not independently predict prognosis. We conclude that emphasis should be placed on evaluating the main specimen margins when estimating prognosis after OCSCC resection.