Minor salivary gland carcinomas are uncommon but most often occur in the oral cavity, particularly the hard palate. Dental examination may provide an opportunity for early detection. During the period of 1977-2000 a group of 75 patients (31 males and 44 females, median age 44.2 years and range 15-86 years) with minor salivary gland tumors were diagnosed, based on the 1991 WHO classification. The peak occurrence of the tumors was in the fifth decade for males and sixth decade for females. The frequency of benign tumors was 38.6% (n = 29) and malignant tumors 61.3% (n = 46). Pleomorphic adenoma was the most common histological type of benign tumor identified whereas mucoepidermoid carcinoma and adenoid cystic carcinoma were the most common malignant tumors. The most common primary location of the tumors was the palate followed by the cheek. A benign tumor usually presented as an asymptomatic swelling and ulceration, pain being more frequently associated with the malignant tumors. This study shows that intraoral tumors of minor salivary glands vary widely in presentation, and should be taking into account by medical and dental practitioners in any differential diagnosis when assessing intraoral pathology. Any lesion arising from the hard palate (the most common site in this series) should be considered as a possible minor salivary gland tumor. Referral to a multidisciplinary head and neck clinic following diagnosis is strongly recommended. © 2005 International Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.