To assess the utility of vaccinia virus recombinants in the development of an immune response against HPV capsid antigens, 5-week-old C57B16 female mice were administered either purified HPV 1 capsids produced by a vaccinia virus recombinant or the recombinant vaccinia virus itself. Animals were boosted at Week 4 with either agent. Mice developed a serum IgG antibody response in all the administration protocols that was directed mainly against native L1 epitopes. Mice injected initially with the vaccinia virus recombinant and boosted with purified capsids had a higher titer antibody response (P = 0.024) with more mice responding to a greater extent. All mice produced a serum IgM response that preceded the IgG response by approximately 2 weeks and lasted 1-3 weeks. The IgM response was directed against native L1 epitopes. Although no serum IgA was detected, IgA could be detected in vaginal secretions of mice that were immunized or boosted with the vaccinia virus vector. These results indicate that an extensive humoral immune response to HPV can be elicited using vaccinia virus recombinants.