Oral malignancies remain to have higher morbidity and mortality rates owing to the poor understanding of the carcinogenesis and the lack of early detection and diagnosis. The lack of established biomarkers for oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma (OTSCC) resulted in aggressive multi-modality management less effective. Here, we report for the first time that a panel of potential markers identified from tongue tumor samples using two-dimensional-differential-in-gel-electrophoresis (2D-DIGE). Our approach of combining 2D-DIGE with tandem mass spectrometry identified 24 candidate proteins including cofilins, myosin light chain family members, annexins, serpins, HSPs and tropomyosins, with significant differential expression in tongue carcinomas as compared with their matched adjacent normal tissues. The expression levels of the identified proteins were further validated in larger cohort of Indian samples using qPCR. Most of the differentially regulated proteins are involved in actin cytoskeletal dynamics, drug resistance, immune system, inflammation and apoptotic signalling pathways and are known to play critical role in oral tumorigenesis. Taken together, the results from present investigation provide a valuable base for understanding the development and progression of OTSCC. The validated panel of proteins may be used as potential biomarkers for early detection as well as in predicting therapeutic outcome of OTSCC. © 2018 The Author(s).