The great auricular nerve is often sacrificed in superficial parotidectomy, even though its posterior branch often can be preserved. By cautious dissection of the great auricular nerve it is possible to preserve the posterior branch in 70.5 per cent of the operations. Ninety-five patients who had undergone superficial parotidectomy were included. A significantly higher number of patients had subjective sequelae if the posterior branch of the nerve had been cut, compared to the patients with a preserved nerve. A significantly higher rate of sensory morbidity was found if the nerve had been cut. In patients with a preserved posterior branch of the great auricular nerve there was no increase in other potential sequelae after parotidectomy. Therefore, this additional dissection should be considered, where appropriate, in routine parotid surgery.