Five-year survival for patients with oral cancer has been disappointingly stable during the last decades, creating a demand for new biomarkers and treatment targets. Lately, much focus has been set on immunomodulation as a possible treatment or an adjuvant increasing sensitivity to conventional treatments. The objective of this study was to evaluate the prognostic importance of response to radiotherapy in tongue carcinoma patients as well as the expression of the CXC-chemokines in correlation to radiation response in the same group of tumours. Thirty-eight patients with tongue carcinoma that had received radiotherapy followed by surgery were included. The prognostic impact of pathological response to radiotherapy, N-status, T-stage, age and gender was evaluated using Cox's regression models, Kaplan-Meier survival curves and chi-square test. The expression of 23 CXC-chemokine ligands and their receptors were evaluated in all patients using microarray and qPCR and correlated with response to treatment using logistic regression. Pathological response to radiotherapy was independently associated to overall survival with a 2-year survival probability of 81 % for patients showing a complete pathological response, while patients with a non-complete response only had a probability of 42 % to survive for 2 years (p = 0.016). The expression of one CXC-chemokine, CXCL10, was significantly associated with response to radiotherapy and the group of patients with the highest CXCL10 expression responded, especially poorly (p = 0.01). CXCL10 is a potential marker for response to radiotherapy and overall survival in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue.