Archival formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded cervical specimens from 125 women in Greenland and 139 women in Denmark who had CIN I-III or cervical cancer diagnosed between 1983 and 1987 were analysed for human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16) by in situ hybridization and for HPV-16, 18, 31, 33, 35 and 45 by PCR. In situ hybridization analysis showed an HPV-16 prevalence of 17% (16/95) and 23% (24/105) in the premalignant lesions from Greenland and Denmark, respectively. The HPV-16 prevalence rate in the cancer specimens was 10% (3/30) in the samples from Greenland and 29% (10/34) in the Danish specimens. A total of 82 Greenlandic and 107 Danish specimens were beta-globin-positive by PCR reaction. HPV-16-specific PCR on these samples showed 63% (34/54) of the Greenlandic and 68% (50/74) of the Danish preinvasive lesions to be positive. The corresponding HPV-16-positive rates for the invasive cancers were 82% (23/28) for Greenland and 70% (23/33) for Denmark. This study of patient samples supports our previous population-based studies in which similar HPV-detection rates were found among random samples of women from Greenland and Denmark, although Greenland has a 4-5-fold higher cervical cancer incidence.