INTRODUCTION Mortality due to cancer in patients treated for squamous cell carcinoma of the supraglottic larynx is closely associated with regional relapse in the neck. Controversy exists relative to the most effective way to manage potential cervical metastases. METHODS The records of 126 patients with carcinoma of the larynx treated between 1975 and 1986 were reviewed. Sixty-three patients with T2-4,NO squamous cell carcinoma of the supraglottic larynx are the subject of this report. Twenty-one patients underwent surgical resection of the primary tumor plus elective neck dissection while 42 patients underwent surgical resection of the primary tumor without neck dissection. Subsequent relapse in the neck was ascertained. RESULTS The overall neck relapse rate was 31.7%. In patients treated with neck dissection, the relapse rate was 14.3%, while relapse in the patients who did not have neck dissection was 40.5%. Radiation therapy did not seem to make a significant difference in relapse rate in this patient population. CONCLUSIONS We conclude that elective neck dissection decreases the neck relapse rates significantly in patients treated for NO supraglottic carcinoma.