DNA of human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18 has been found closely associated with human genital cancer, supporting the concept that members of this virus group are key factors in the aetiology of genital cancer. HPV 18 DNA sequences were also detected in cell lines derived from cervical cancer. We have now analysed these cell lines, HeLa, C4-1 and 756, for the structural organization and transcription of the HPV 18 genome and we find that the HPV 18 DNA is integrated into the cellular genome and is amplified in HeLa and 756 cells. Almost the complete HPV 18 genome seems to be present in 756 cells, with the early region being disrupted into two portions in each integrated copy. In HeLa and C4-1 cells, a 2-3 kilobase (kb) segment of HPV 18-specific sequences is missing from the E2 to L2 region. HPV 18 sequences are specifically transcribed from the E6-E7-E1 region into poly(A)+ RNAs of 1.5-6.5 kb. Hybridization analysis of cDNA clones indicated that some of the transcripts are composed of HPV 18 and cellular sequences. In addition, poly(A)+ RNA hybridizing with HPV 16 DNA was found in two out of three cervical carcinoma biopsies.