BACKGROUND: Intracranial metastases are rarely clinically diagnosed in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Only 7 patients with metastases to the cavernous sinus from head and neck squamous cell carcinomas have been reported. METHODS: A retrospective study revealed 13 patients with intracranial metastases of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. In a 53-year-old woman a cavernous sinus metastasis of a laryngeal carcinoma was histologically diagnosed by using a CT-guided surgical navigation system and was treated with stereotactic radiotherapy. RESULTS: The mean survival was 4.3 months. Predictive factors for longer survival were absence of extracranial disease, age younger than 60 years, and treatment with radiotherapy. CONCLUSIONS: The prognosis for patients with intracranial disease is poor. The current development of computer-assisted stereotactic navigation and stereotactic radiotherapy may facilitate surgical diagnostic exploration and improve treatment, especially in patients without extracranial disease.