Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) accounts for a bulk of the oral and laryngeal cancers, the majority (70%) of which are associated with smoking and excessive drinking, major known risk factors for the development of HNSCC. In contrast to reports that suggest an inverse relationship between smoking and global DNA CpG methylation, hypermethylation of promoters of a number of geneswas detected in saliva collected frompatients with HNSCC. Using a sensitivemethylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (MSP) assay to determine specificmethylation events in the promoters of RASSF1A, DAPK1, and p16 genes, we demonstrate that we can detect tumor presence with an overall accuracy of 81% in the DNA isolated from saliva of patients with HNSCC (n = 143) when compared with the DNA isolated from the saliva of healthy nonsmoker controls (n = 31). The specificity for this MSP panel was 87% and the sensitivity was 80%(with a Fisher exact test P <.0001). In addition, the test panel performed extremely well in the detection of the early stages of HNSCCs, with a sensitivity of 94%and a specificity of 87%, and a high κ concordance value of 0.8, indicating an excellent overall agreement between the presence of HNSCC and a positive MSP panel result. In conclusion, we demonstrate that the promoter methylation of RASSF1A, DAPK1, andp16 MSP panel is useful in detecting hypermethylation events in a noninvasive manner in patients with HNSCC.