The significance of and approach to cervical smears showing cytologic atypia without dyskaryosis remains controversial. A review of 139 colposcopies performed for atypical cytology revealed cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) in 25%. Of the CIN found, 85% was CIN I and 15%, II. No case of more advanced disease was found. The type and severity of the cytologic atypia correlated with the presence of CIN. However, all degrees of atypia were found to have a significant association with CIN, and the degree of cytologic atypia therefore cannot be used to exclude colposcopy in any women with atypical smears. This study suggested that cytologic atypia is an expression of early CIN, and the results support our endorsement of routine colposcopy in the evaluation of women with persistent atypia.