Head and neck tumours presenting as a neck abscess are extremely rare. Two patients with laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma, presenting with a prelaryngeal abscess, are described. Although clinically and on the CT studies these cases were suspect for underlying malignancy, the initial biopsies were negative for cancer. Because of persistent suspicion, repeat biopsies finally confirmed the presence of a squamous cell carcinoma. Pathological examination after total laryngectomy showed cancer localised in one of the true vocal cords, invading the anterior commissure and thyroid cartilage. However, the prelaryngeal soft tissues were free of tumour, showing only inflammatory changes and collections of pus. These cases emphasize the importance of repeat targeted biopsies and follow-up CT-studies in patients with a prelaryngeal abscess of obscure aetiology, in order to exclude or confirm a possible underlying malignancy.