Human papillomavirus (HPV) 8 induces skin tumors which are at high risk for malignant conversion. The nucleotide sequence of HPV8 has been determined and compared to sequences of papillomaviruses with different oncogenic potential. The general organization of the HPV8 genome is similar to that of other types. Highly conserved, genus-specific sequences were found in open reading frames (ORFs) E1, E2, and L1. In ORFs E6, E7, and L2, HPV8 is more distantly related, but it was possible to differentiate subgenera in which HPV8 belonged to the HPV1-cottontail rabbit papillomavirus group. Sequences within ORF E4 and part of ORF L2 are rather type specific. HPV8 stands out by several unique features: the considerably reduced size of the noncoding region (397 base pairs), with a seemingly low potential for forming complex secondary structures; a cluster of putative promoter elements in the 3' half of ORF E1; an RNA polymerase III promoter-like sequence close to the C terminus of ORF E2; and of particular interest, the homology between the putative protein encoded by ORF E4 and the Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen 2 protein, which may reflect similar mechanisms in virus-mediated transformation.