The most common malignancy of the esophagus is squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and regional lymph node metastases are an important prognostic factor. Isolated tumor cells (ITCs) are defined as single tumor cells or small clusters of tumor cells not exceeding 0.2 mm. The prognostic role of ITCs is not clear. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of ITCs in regional lymph nodes in patients with esophageal SCC and to investigate how frequently ITCs represent part of a true metastasis. Surgical specimens from 100 patients with SCC of the esophagus were included. All original H&E stained slides containing lymph nodes were reviewed by two gastrointestinal pathologists. In lymph nodes containing ITCs, additional levels were cut and stained with a H&E- and a cytokeratin stain. Areas of tumor cells that measured >0.2 mm on the deeper sections were classified as metastases. A total of 2460 lymph nodes were examined. ITCs were detected in 10 lymph nodes (0.4%) from nine patients (9%). Deeper sections revealed metastases in five out of the 10 lymph nodes (50%). ITCs in regional lymph nodes of patients with SCC of the esophagus is a rare finding compared with patients with adenocarcinoma of the esophagogastric junction. However, deeper sections often revealed metastases. Therefore, in patients with SCC of the esophagus, we recommend additional sectioning and immunohistochemical examination of lymph nodes when ITCs are detected on the first slide.