Tamoxifen is an selective estrogen receptor antagonist widely used in the management of patients with breast cancer for more than 30 years. It was thought to act primarily through occupying the estrogen receptor sites in ER positive breast cancer cells and directly on cancer cell proper. These inhibitory effects, which have been shown to be independent of the ER, highlight new mechanism of therapeutic action of tamoxifen. The purposes of this study were to identify ER in oral carcinoma cell lines and to evaluate ER independent cytotoxic effect of tamoxifen. KB(SCC), HSC-3(SCC) and A253(ACC) cell line were used and capacity of cell proliferation, apoptosis, in vitro invasion and gelatin zymography were tested. ER expression of each cell line were detected by RT-PCR and immunocytochemistry. Dose dependent inhibition of cell proliferation and inhibition of gelatinolytic activity were observed in all oral carcinoma cell lines and significant difference of apoptotic index were observed in A253 and KB. Tamoxifen inhibited in vitro invasion in all experimental groups. ER expression was detected in KB and A253. These data suggest that tamoxifen may play a role in management of oral carcinoma by independent cytotoxic effect and more advanced research must processed confirming ER-dependent cytotoxicity.