A comparison and survival analysis of 203 patients (21%) with adenocarcinoma and 756 (79%) with squamous cell cancer of the cervix for the time period 1970-1985 is reported. The mean number of new cases of adenocarcinoma (N = 12) remained the same, while squamous cell cases decreased from 57 to 32. The clinical features were compared; oral contraceptive usage, node status, diabetes, and symptoms of bleeding were not related to cell type. Nulliparity was more frequent in patients with adenocarcinoma, whereas obesity and smoking were more frequent in patients with squamous cell cancer. Survival in stage I was significantly influenced by the cell type. Patients with stage I squamous cell disease had a 90% 5-year survival, compared with 60% for adenocarcinoma (P less than .0001). Other features that influenced survival included node status (P = .001), poor differentiation of tumor histology (P = .001), diabetes (P = .001), and Papanicolaou smear interval (P = .001). Patients undergoing radical hysterectomy were analyzed separately, and adenocarcinoma cell type significantly influenced survival (P = .0008). Patients with stage II squamous cell disease had a 62% survival, compared with 47% for adenocarcinoma (P = .01); patients with stage III squamous cell disease had a 36% survival, compared with 8% for adenocarcinoma (P = .002). The percentage of adenocarcinoma has increased because of the decreased number of patients with squamous cell disease. Stage-for-stage survival is significantly decreased for patients with adenocarcinoma as opposed to squamous cell disease.