The inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAP) suppress apoptosis induced by a variety of stimuli. The aims of this study were to: (a) compare the expression of X-linked IAP (Xiap) and Human IAP-2 (Hiap-2) in cervical carcinoma cells and normal cervix, (b) determine the correlation between IAP expression and tumour apoptosis or proliferation, and (c) assess their prognostic significance in cervical carcinomas. Paraffin-embedded tissue sections were retrieved from 77 patients with cervical squamous carcinomas prior to treatments and 47 normal subjects. Tumour apoptosis was determined by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT)-mediated deoxyuracil triphosphate (dUTP) nick-end labelling (TUNEL) and apoptotic index (AI), and the proliferative rate was measured by Ki-67 and mitotic (MI) indices. Immunoreactive Xiap and Hiap-2 were found in both cervical cancer cells and normal tissues. IAP expressions in cancers did not correlate with apoptotic and proliferative parameters, disease stage and patient survival. The lower AI and Ki-67 index were associated with a better survival. In conclusion, the basal expression levels of IAPs have no prognostic significance, but AI and Ki-67 expression are potential prognostic indicators in cervical carcinoma.