Human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16) is the HPV type most frequently associated with cervical carcinomas. Based on our previous research with anti-HPV ribozymes, we developed a 16-nucleotide antisense oligodeoxynucleotide (AntiE6) able to direct RNase H activity on full-length HPV-16 E6/E7 mRNA. Although the precise mechanism is not completely understood, addition of 50 microM AntiE6 oligodeoxynucleotide in sterile water caused a significant decrease in the growth rate of CaSki and QGU cervical tumor cell lines. In contrast, addition of a mismatched mutant oligodeoxynucleotide (M7) did not affect cell growth after 72 hours. Treatment with AntiE6 resulted in down-regulation of E6/E7 mRNA and an increase in p53 levels in QGU cells. AntiE6 was also able to (>70%) inhibit significantly growth of transplanted cervical tumors in nude mice after 2 weeks treatment using constant delivery by osmotic pumps. These results indicate that the AntiE6 antisense oligodeoxynucleotides can act as a therapeutic agent against cervical carcinomas.