Data on the incidence and determinants of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in women >30 years old are scarce. To address this, a cohort of 1610 women--15-85 years old, HPV negative, and with normal cytological results at baseline--was monitored every 6 months for an average of 4.1 years. Information on risk factors and cervical samples for cytological testing and detection and typing of HPV DNA were obtained at each visit. The incidence of high-risk types was higher than that of low-risk types (5.0 vs. 2.0 cases/100 woman-years). The age-specific incidence curve for high-risk types was bimodal, whereas the incidence of low-risk types gradually decreased with age. Infections with high-risk types lasted longer than infections with low-risk types (14.8 vs. 11.1 months). In this cohort of cytologically normal women, the incidence of cervical HPV infection was high, and the epidemiological profile of high-risk HPV types was different from that of low-risk types.