Seven studies that have reported on the prevalence of anogenital types of the human papillomavirus in prostate cancer, benign prostatic hypertrophy and normal prostatic tissue are reviewed. When the data were combined, 32% of the cancers were positive, compared to 49% of the benign lesions and 9% of the normal tissue. The highest positivity rates were found in the earlier studies, and the more recent results have been more negative. The finding of higher rates in benign compared to malignant tissue and the failure of confirmatory studies to support earlier reports make it unlikely that the common anogenital papillomaviruses have an important role in prostate carcinogenesis. More work is needed to decide if the prostate is a significant reservoir for the papillomavirus in the male.