The aims of this study were to analyze the polymorphisms XRCC1 Arg194Trp, XRCC1 Arg399Gln, XRCC3 Thr241Met, XPC Lys939Gln, ERCC1 Asn118Asn, and RAD51 -98G>C and to verify their influence on radiotherapy response and prognosis of patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Peripheral blood DNA was extracted from 311 patients and analyzed by PCR-RFLP. Our results showed that in irradiated oral and oropharyngeal patients, the 939Gln allele increased 6-fold local disease relapse risk (OR = 6.04; CI = 1.47-24.88) and over 2-fold the earliness of relapse (HR = 2.63; CI = 1.04-6.70). As for the XRCC3 polymorphism, multivariate analysis showed that the 241Met allele increases over 33-fold local relapse risk (OR = 33.64; CI = 3.23-350.85), over 12-fold earliness of relapse (HR = 12.55; CI = 2.47-63.73) and over 3-fold earliness of death (HR = 3.04; CI = 1.08-8.61). For polymorphism RAD51 -98, multivariate analysis showed that allele C increases over 3-fold the risk of relapse (OR = 3.13; CI = 1.12-8.78) and over 2-fold the earliness of relapse (HR = 2.84; CI = 1.25-6.47). For polymorphism XRCC1 Arg399Gln, multivariate analysis showed that the 399Gln allele increased the risk of local disease relapse for irradiated oral and oropharyngeal patients (OR = 3.35; CI = 1.10-10.13) by over 3-fold. Based on these results, we suggest that these polymorphisms may be useful markers of prognosis in HNSCC.