The objective of this study was to compare mast cell density (MCD) in oral epithelial dysplasias (OED) and oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) and determine its correlation with clinical and histopathologic parameters and the degree of tumor differentiation. Thirty OSCC samples, 14 OED samples, and 4 non-neoplastic oral mucosa samples were analyzed by immunohistochemistry to determine MCD based on the expression of MC tryptase. In addition, MCs were categorized morphologically into degranulated and granulated cells. MCD was significantly higher in OSCC lesions with a greater degree of differentiation (P=0.04). No significant difference in MCD was detected between mild and moderate OED samples (P=0.09). Our findings indicate that MCs are present in the tumor microenvironment and may be associated with a better prognosis.