The prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) in paired cervical scrape and urine specimens from 144 women attending a clinic for genitourinary medicine was determined by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and nested PCR, using degenerate and general primer pairs localized within the L1 region. HPV typing was by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP), type-specific PCR (HPV 6, 11, 16, 18, 33), and partial DNA sequencing of PCR products. HPV DNA was detected in 114 (84%) women. HPV DNA was detected in the specimens of 58 patients after amplification with MY09/MY11 primers and in a further 54 patients after nested PCR with the GP5+/GP6+ primers. A total of 106/136 (78%) of women had HPV DNA positive cervical scrapes and 89 (65%) had HPV DNA positive urine specimens. Both the urine and cervical specimens of 81 women were positive. In 25 women HPV DNA was detected in the cervical specimen only, and in 8 women HPV DNA was detected in the urine specimens only. A total of 108 specimens from 75 patients were typed. For 33 patients HPV typing was achieved in both the cervical and the urine specimens and 19 women had identical types in paired specimens. Multiple HPV infections could be detected in 15 (20%) of 75 women where either the cervical and urine specimen or both of the specimens could be typed. More then one HPV type was found in 8 specimens and from multiple sites (cervix and urinary tract) in the same patients on 7 occasions. The results of this study indicate that the detection of HPVs in the urogenital tract can be maximised through the testing of both cervical scrapes and urine specimens in conjunction with the use of a nested PCR to increase the sensitivity of HPV DNA detection. Also, urine cannot be a direct substitute for a cervical scrape as different HPV types are often detected in the urine compared with those detected in the cervix.