The Arg/Arg genotype versus Arg/Pro or Pro/Pro at codon 72 of the p53 gene has been implicated as a risk marker in cervical neoplasia. However, research on this topic has produced controversial results. We reviewed the published literature to summarize the association and to identify methodological features that may have contributed to the heterogeneity. Information on specific methodological features of studies addressing this topic published between 1998 and 2002 were obtained. Study-specific odds ratios (ORs) were combined in a meta-analysis, assuming random effects. To identify characteristics that significantly contributed to heterogeneity, we used meta-regression analysis. We identified 50 articles, of which 45 were included in the meta-analyses and regressions. No evidence of association or heterogeneity was detected for preinvasive lesions. For invasive cervical cancer with undefined histology, the Arg/Arg genotype was not found to affect risk (OR, 1.1; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.9-1.3). However, a slightly increased risk was observed for squamous cell carcinoma (OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.2-1.9) and adenocarcinoma (OR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.0-2.7). Meta-regression analysis identified that the most important factor contributing to heterogeneity among results for invasive lesions was departures from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium in the control group. Summary ORs for studies in equilibrium were essentially null. A possible susceptibility role by the p53 codon 72 polymorphism at a late carcinogenetic stage in cervical cancer cannot be ruled out. However, various methodological features can contribute to departures from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium and consequently to less than ideal circumstances for the examination of this polymorphism. Future investigations require appropriate attention to design and methodological issues.