The great auricular nerve is routinely divided during the operation of parotidectomy, however, some surgeons have suggested that preserving the posterior branches reduces the area of post-operative anaesthesia. A prospective study was performed comparing the area of anaesthesia and hypoaesthesia in patients undergoing parotidectomy. In 20 patients the great auricular nerve was preserved and in 11 it was sacrificed. Mapping of the area of sensory loss at 2 weeks, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months showed that there was no difference between the two groups. The area of sensory loss decreased in an exponential fashion in both groups. The majority of the change occurred within 6 months. We conclude that preservation of the posterior branches of the great auricular nerve is unnecessary.