Background: Lingual osseous and chondromatous growths are rare but well-defined entities. The cause of these growths is still unknown, but several theories have been proposed. Case presentation: Amass measuring one cm in diameter on the dorsum of the tongue in a 28-year-old male causing discomfort was found to consist predominantly of hyatine cartilage with prominent bone transformation. Conclusion: This finding confirms that bony masses in the tongue may originate from cartilaginous precursors, in contrast to similar masses seen on the face which are (often) purely osseous. (c) 2007 European Association for Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery.