The treatment of genital warts remains frustrating since it is often painful, expensive, and unsuccessful. Moreover, little is known about the infectivity and natural history of exophytic genital warts or subclinical genital infection with human papillomavirus. The traditional goals of therapy for sexually transmitted diseases--eradication of infection, elimination of symptoms, prevention of long-term sequelae, and interruption of transmission--are currently not attainable for or applicable to genital warts. The medical literature from January 1988 to August 1993 was reviewed for recent studies on the treatment of exophytic warts. The following treatments were included in the reviewed studies: podofilox (which was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration), podophyllin, cryotherapy, topical 5-fluorouracil, intralesional interferon, systemic interferon, and laser surgery. No single treatment modality was superior to another, and recurrence rates associated with all modalities were high. Treatment of genital warts should be guided by preferences of the patient, and a specific therapeutic regimen should be chosen with consideration of expense, efficacy, convenience, and potential for adverse effects.