Articles on early-stage squamous cell and adenocarcinoma of the cervix published between August 1990 and July 1991 are reviewed. A new monoclonal antibody used to distinguish endocervical from endometrial differentiation is described, as well as a histochemical means of distinguishing in situ from invasive adenocarcinoma. In vitro and in vivo studies of cell lines immortalized with human papillomavirus DNA are described with a discussion of the mechanism of the development of malignancy. An animal model to test and develop an anti-human papillomavirus vaccine is presented. The epidemiology of adenocarcinoma is also reviewed, and the development of invasive carcinoma after conservative therapy or conization for dysplasia is discussed. Computed tomography scanning has been found to be no more accurate than examination for staging of early cervical cancer. Several studies in the review period have evaluated risk factors for recurrent disease in patients treated for early-stage cervical cancer, including a prospective surgical pathologic study by the Gynecologic Oncology Group. The optimal treatment of early stage I adenocarcinoma of the cervix is discussed, comparing the efficacy of primary surgical therapy with the efficacy of radiation therapy. The risk of ovarian metastases in patients with early-stage cervical cancer is very low for both squamous cell and adenocarcinoma. The surgical technique and efficacy of laparoscopic pelvic lymphadenectomy for patients with early-stage cervical cancer are discussed. Lateral transposition of the ovaries at the time of radical hysterectomy for cervical cancer has significant potential benefits but also risks. Finally, surveillance methods that detect recurrent cervical cancer after treatment for early-stage disease are discussed.