To investigate the prevalence of, and the risk factors for, cervical infection with 44 types of human papillomavirus (HPV) in a rural area in the Dindigul District, Tamil Nadu, India, we interviewed and obtained cervical cell samples from 1891 married women aged 16-59 years. HPV prevalence was 16.9% overall and 14.0% among women without cervical abnormalities, or 17.7 and 15.2%, respectively, age-standardised to the world standard population. In all, 21.9% of infections involved more than one HPV type. High-risk HPV types predominated, particularly HPV 16 (22.5% of women infected), followed by HPV 56, HPV 31, HPV 33 and HPV 18. Unlike most populations studied in developed countries, HPV prevalence was constant across the age groups. HPV positivity was inversely associated with education level (odds ratio (OR) among women with high school vs no education=0.6) and positively associated with widowhood and divorce (OR=1.7), nulligravidity (OR=2.3), and condom use (OR=2.6). It is unclear how much low clearance of, or frequent reinfection with HPV accounted for the study prevalence of infection in different age groups.