BACKGROUND This study aims to compare the alterations in the methylation profiles of E-cadherin in oral cancer, especially in tumors with lowest metatastic potential. METHODS Nine oral verrucous carcinomas (VCs), 20 oral well-differentiated squamous cell carcinomas without lymph node involvement (SCC-pN0), and 17 with lymph node involvement (SCC-pN+) were analyzed using methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemical expression of E-cadherin gene. RESULTS The immunohistochemical expression of E-cadherin in VC was significantly higher (p = .016) when compared with SCC-pN0 and SCC-pN+ groups. The E-cadherin gene methylation was not correlated with its abnormal immunohistochemical expression in VC and SCC-pN0. All tumors of the SCC-pN+ group with unmethylated E-cadherin gene showed significant loss of E-cadherin immunoexpression (p = .044). CONCLUSIONS The E-cadherin gene methylation presence in tumors with lowest invasive and metastatic potential, such as VC, suggests the early involvement of this epigenetic event in the multistep progression of the oral carcinogenesis.