Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, globally one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, is associated with cancers, genital warts, and other epithelial lesions. Although a consistent and coherent picture of the epidemiology and pathogenesis of genital HPV infections in women has developed over the past two decades, less is known about these infections in men. Available data suggest that, as with women, most genital HPV infections in men are symptomless and unapparent, and that HPV16 is probably the most frequently detected type. In populations of similar age, the prevalence of specific HPV types is usually lower in men than in women. Whether this observation relates to lower incidence or shorter duration of infection in men than in women has not yet been determined. Seroprevalence of specific anti-HPV antibodies also seems to be lower in men than in women of similar age, a difference that might be due to lower viral load, lower incidence or duration of infection or lower antibody responses, or both, in men compared with women. Differences in sexual behaviour may also be important predictors of genital HPV infection. With the anticipated availability of prophylactic HPV vaccines in the near future, it becomes increasingly important to understand the incidence and duration of HPV infections in men to develop cost-effective approaches to prevention through a combination of immunisation and promotion of risk-reduction strategies.