Objectives: Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (ESWL) has been applied in sialolithiasis as a new treatment modality. The aim of this experimental study is to investigate the local effects of electrohydraulic ESWL applied to the right submandibular gland of the rats. Methods: This prospective study was conveyed in four groups groups I, II, III and IV: each group consisting of 20, 20, 18 and 9 rats, respectively, with a randomized distribution, Groups I, II, III and IV received 250, 500, 1000 and 2000 shock waves at 14-16 kV (average 15.1 kV), respectively, to the right submandibular glands on the 0th day. In groups I, II, III, right submandibular glands of the rats were removed on the 0th 1st, 7th and 15th days, in group IV, this procedure could be managed only on the 0th and 7th days. Light and electron microscopic evaluation were assessed, Using the light microscopic changes, severity of damage score of the glands (SDS) was found. Statistical analysis was done using SDSs. Results: Light and electron microscopic observations have shown that the damage produced by the shock waves were confined to focal areas in the acinar cells (AC), granulated convoluted tubule (GCT) cells and blood vessels at all doses applied. Vacuolization in the cytoplasms of the AC and GCT cells, disintegration of membranes, alteration in the cytoplasmic organization, swelling of the mitochondria and loss of the features were observed on electron microscopy. Increase in the secretion rate; stasis and dilatation in the blood vessels: blebbing and loss of features in the cytoplasm of the endothelial cells were observed, According to the result of the statistical analysis using SDSs, at 250 shock wave dose, a statistically significant difference between the SDSs of the days (0th, 1st, 7th and 15th) was found (P < 0.05), The SDS on the 0th day was found to have the lowest value among the other days. And also a statistically significant difference was found on the 0th day between the SDSs at doses of 250, 500, 1000 and 2000 shock waves (P < 0.05). The SDS at 250 and 500 shock waves was found to have the lower value than the SDS at the 2000 shock wave. It was observed that produced damage was less prominent by small doses (250, 500 doses) initially (0th day). Electrohydraulic ESWL caused a "patchy type" generalized pathology on submandibular glands of the rats and damaged focal areas were widespread all through the gland from the 1st day on. Conclusion: Formation of the damage was concluded to be related to the direct effect of the shock waves rather than the dose used. Electrohydraulic lithotripters are not suitable for sialolithiasis because of the focus problems, local tissue damage and the risk of the damage to the adjacent structures. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.