Adhesion molecules and proteinases play an important role in the invasion and metastasis of a malignant tumor. However, there have not been many studies on tongue squamous cell carcinoma, the most common form of oral cancer in Korea. This study was designed to evaluate the significance of adhesion molecules and proteinases to predict the metastasis potential and prognosis of a tongue squamous cell carcinoma, and to establish a treatment plan. This investigation involved 35 patients who were diagnosed confirm tongue squamous cell carcinoma at Saint Mary's Hospital and Kangnam Saint Mary's Hospital, the Catholic University of Korea, between 1994 and 2000, and had not received chemo- or radiotherapy. The expression of the adhesion molecules CD44H, proteinases MMP-2 and MMP-9, and TIMP-1, which controls MMP activity, was analyzed by immunohistochemistry. In addition their association with the tumor size, lymph node metastasis, clinical stage, and cell differentiation was evaluated. Increased MMP-2 expression was significantly correlated with lymph node metastasis and the clinical stage. However, it did not correlate with tumor size or cell differentiation. CD44H, MMP-9 and TIMP-1 expressions were not significantly related to tumor size, lymph node metastasis, clinical stage and cell differentiation. The results suggest that MMP-2 is a possible immunohistochemical prognostic factor in tongue squamous cell carcinoma. Further researches will be needed to investigate the additional tumor prognostic factors and their mechanisms.