OBJECTIVE: To examine, for the first time Bcl-2 expression in sequential (autogenous) oral mucosal biopsies taken from the same sites in a gender, risk-factor matched, Caucasoid sample, over a 21-year period. DESIGN: Retrospective immunocytochemical longitudinal study of archival serial biopsies. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Computer records were used to identify biopsy specimens derived from 12 patients. These were divided into four groups: (1) Histologically innocuous lesions which remained histologically innocuous. (2) Dysplastic lesions which remained dysplastic. (3) Histologically innocuous lesions which later progressed to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). (4) Dysplastic lesions which later progressed to SCC. This represented 65 biopsies in total. Bcl-2 expression was studied using mouse antihuman BCL-2 oncoprotein clone 124 (Dako, Denmark). RESULTS: Generally, there was a lack of Bcl-2 immunoreactivity in the epithelium, with one exception in dysplastic epithelium from a group (3) patient. CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that in our series, Bcl-2 is not expressed early in oral premalignant lesions and appears to contradict previous reports. Possible explanations for this disparity are considered.