Aim Maximum isometric tongue pressure (MIP) seems to have a diagnostic value for oral phase dysphagia. The present study aimed to examine the association between MIP and frailty, and to assess the screening validity of MIP for physical frailty. Methods We carried out a cross‐sectional study, and enrolled participants aged ≥60 years from Japanese national medical check‐ups in 2015 and 2016. The Fried frailty phenotype model was used. We analyzed odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of physical frailty using one standard deviation increments of tongue pressure. Receiver operating characteristic curves were obtained to predict physical frailty using MIP values. Results Out of 1603 participants, 968 were categorized as non‐frail, 605 as pre‐frail and 30 as frail. In logistic regression analysis, one standard deviation increment of MIP significantly differentiated frail and pre‐frail: the OR for frail with one standard deviation increment in MIP was 0.37 (95% CI 0.26–0.54, P < 0.001), and the OR for pre‐frail was 0.63 (95% CI 0.57–0.70, P < 0.001). The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for predicting frailty with MIP score was as high as 0.776 (95% CI 0.689–0.862). A point of MIP 35 kPa had a sensitivity of 90.0%, specificity of 40.4%, a positive likelihood ratio of 1.5 and a negative likelihood ratio of 0.2 for predicting frailty. Conclusions MIP performance is independently associated with frailty. MIP also can be used as a simple screening tool for frailty. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2017; ••: ••–••.