Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections are prevalent in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive individuals. To highlight the effect of HIV on HPV expression, HPV-18-positive HIV-permissive HeLa-T4 cells were either infected with HIV-1 or treated with Tat or with the cytokines IL-1alpha, IL-1beta, IL-6 and TNF-alpha. The presence of HPV-18 E1 (early) and L1 (late) transcripts was then determined by dot-blot or Northern blot hybridization with E1 and L1 or with genomic HPV-18 DNA probes, respectively. Protein extracts from parallel cultures were challenged by Western blotting with an antiserum raised against an L1-beta-galactosidase hybrid protein. Results indicated that HeLa-T4 cells constitutively express E1 and L1 transcripts. When cells were infected with HIV, the amounts of E1 and L1 RNAs increased with time, followed by the de novo appearance of L1 protein. E1 and L1 transcripts were also increased, in a dose-dependent manner, by treatment of uninfected cultures with Tat or with IL-6, but were not affected by IL-1alpha, IL-1beta and TNF- alpha. Neither Tat nor IL-6 could induce L1 translation. These findings raise the hypothesis that the increase of HPV shedding and of HPV-associated diseases in HIV-infected individuals could be due in part to a direct or cytokine-mediated action of HIV, in addition to the HIV-induced immunodeficiency.