Since the introduction of organized cytological screening in Sweden, most women currently presenting with cervical cancer are those who have not attended the programme and who have no cytological screening history. The aims of this study were: (i) to measure the response rate among women not attending organized cytological screening who were offered a device for self-sampling a vaginal smear at home; (ii) to examine the prevalence of high-risk human papilloma virus (HPV) among women performing self-sampling. Women aged 35-50 years, who had not participated in organized cytological screening for more than 6 years, were offered the opportunity to collect vaginal samples at home using a self-sampling device (Qvintip). The material collected was analysed for high-risk HPV using the Hybrid Capture 2 method. Of 369 women included in the study, 179 (49%) ordered the self-sampling device and 117 (32%) performed self-sampling at home and sent the sample to our laboratory for analysis. The mean prevalence of high-risk HPV was 26% (30/117), 31% (25/80) in women aged 35-42 years and 14% (5/37) in women aged 43-50 years. There was no significant difference in the participation rate with regard to age. The prevalence of high-risk HPV in women not covered by organized screening was considerably higher than in the general population; therefore they may represent a category at high risk of cervical cancer. The study shows that the use of a disposable self-sampling device for HPV testing is a relevant method to increase the participation rate in countries with organized cytological screening.