Using PCR, the overall prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA in penile carcinoma is about 40-45%, which is similar to the detection rate of HPV-DNA in vulvar carcinoma (50%). In analogy to vulvar cancer two different pathways of penile carcinogenesis seem to exist. In contrast to basaloid and warty penile cancers which are regularly HPV-associated (about 80-100%), only a part of keratinizing and verrucous penile carcinomas appear to be related with HPV (33-35%). Penile intraepithelial neoplasias comprising Bowen's disease, erythroplasia of Queyrat and bowenoid papulosis are precursor lesions of basaloid and warty carcinomas of the penis. Precursors of keratinizing carcinomas and verrucous carcinomas are not established. Whether lichen sclerosus and squamous-cell hyperplasia precede penile keratinizing carcinoma is a matter of discussion. Giant condylomata acuminata may precede the development of verrucous carcinomas in some cases. Since high risk HPVs are more frequently found in verrucous carcinomas than in giant condylomas, HPV typing may be a helpful diagnostic step to differentiate giant condyloma from verrucous carcinoma.