Five cell lines, SKG-I, SKG-II, SKG-IIIb, QG-U and QG-H derived from cervical carcinomas of Japanese patients, were examined for the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA and the expression of viral mRNA. The DNA of HPV type 16 was shown to be linked covalently with SKG-IIb, QG-U and QG-H cell DNA, and HPV 18 DNA with SKG-I and SKG-II cell DNA. Although different regions of the HPV genome were integrated in these cell lines, the non-coding region and an early region including the E6 and E7 open reading frames (ORFs) were conserved in all cell lines. The complete genome of HPV 16 was found in QG-H cells by digestion of the DNA with a single-cut restriction enzyme. The other early region ORFs E1, E2, E4 and E5 were interrupted by flanking host cell DNA, suggesting that the integration into host cell DNA occurs preferentially in this region. HPV-specific mRNA species were detected in all five cell lines. In the three cell lines containing the HPV 16 genome, mRNAs hybridized with the early region of the genome, covering the entire E6 and E7 ORFs and a minor part of the E1 ORF, although the amount and size of the major mRNAs varied in these cell lines. These mRNAs did not hybridize with the late region of the HPV genome containing the L1 and L2 ORFs. In SKG-II, SKG-IIIb and QG-H cells we also detected c-myc and c-Ha-ras mRNA expression at about nine times the level of that in normal cells.