Genital Bowen's disease has been strongly linked in recent studies to human papillomavirus (HPV). Nongenital Bowen's disease has been less well investigated, although isolated reports, all of which involved detection of HPV after extraction of DNA from fresh-frozen tissue, have been made. We investigated 25 cases of nongenital Bowen's disease in 5 black and 20 white patients for the presence of HPV types 1, 6, 11, 16, and 18 using paraffin-embedded tissues. Human papillomavirus was present in six specimens from 3 of the 5 black patients (one previously reported to be positive on Southern blot) and 3 of the 20 white patients; HPV 16 was detected in all 6 cases on low-stringency testing, but only 4 remained positive on high-stringency testing. This suggests an HPV closely related to but not entirely homologous with HPV 16 in the 2 remaining cases. Five of the 6 positive specimens were lesions from the hands and feet and 1 was from the volar aspect of the arm. Clinical factors associated with the presence of HPV included black race, location on the palmar surface and the feet, young age, and verrucous or hyperkeratotic clinical appearance. Of the 6 positive cases, all 5 of the patients available for examination also had evidence of HPV-associated genital lesions. No specific histopathologic features were found to be indicative of the presence or absence of HPV.