Cidofovir is an antiviral agent used in the therapy of recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP). In this study, we hypothesized that cidofovir is effective in decreasing the viral load of human papillomavirus (HPV). We established a type specific real-time PCR and measured HPV DNA loads. The course of viral load of HPV types 6 and 11 after repeated applications of cidofovir intralesionally was compared to the clinical outcome using a modified Derkay score. In 6 of the 8 (75 %) patients, we detected HPV 6. In 2 (25 %) patients, we detected HPV 11. In all of the patients, the viral load and the modified Derkay score decreased significantly during the treatment. We conclude that viral load of HPV can be monitored using the technique described here. Cidofovir in combination with surgical debulking reduces the viral load in patients with RRP. Relapses of the symptoms cannot be avoided but might be delayed.