We analyzed TP53 codon 72 polymorphism, HPV DNA in 32 subjects with oesophageal cancer and 57 healthy subjects with normal oesophageal cytology from an area of China with a high prevalence for this cancer (Linxian County, Henan Province). The frequency of the proline allele (0.63) was significantly higher in the Chinese population than in most European or American populations. No significant association was found between TP53 codon 72 genotype and cancer. We also found a low prevalence of HPV DNA (6.7%) in both cancer cases and healthy subjects. Our findings do not support the association between risk of oesophageal cancer, human papilloma virus infection, and TP53 codon 72 polymorphism in a Chinese population at high risk of oesophageal cancer.