In three of the Nordic countries there are nationwide population based screening programmes for cervical cancer. These organized programmes have resulted in a substantial decrease in the incidence of and mortality from cervical cancer. In Finland the reduction in the incidence due to screening has been about 60-70% and it was most substantial for women around the ages of 35 to 50 years, which were screened most intensively. Similar changes occurred in the mortality. It seems that the prerequisites for a successful programme are, for example, to identify the target population, to send personal invitations to attend the screening and to give the results to the women screened. Quality control and evaluation of the programme are also assumed to be part of the programme. The programmes are consuming few resources. In Finland screening is repeated every five years, resulting in only six or seven smears in a lifetime.