The rate of human papillomaviruses (HPV) 16 and 18 infections were measured in 109 women with histologically or cytologically determined lesions of the uterine cervix and in 42 healthy women. Cervical swabs were taken as the source of the target viral DNA. In situ hybridization with biotinylated probes was used. HPV-16 was the predominant type in patients and in healthy women. The percentage of positive cases was the highest in cervical cancer patients: 43.3% in squamous cell carcinoma and 33.3% in adenocarcinoma followed by cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), III, II (21.4%), CIN I (14.3%) and low grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (13.6%). HPV-18 type was detected in a lower percentage in the three groups of patients. In healthy women HPV-16 was determined in 12% and HPV-18 in 4.8%. We believe that the described noninvasive method of obtaining clinical material should be the method of choice for estimating papillomavirus infections in patients and in the general population. Our results are in agreement with suggestions that HPV genotype could be an important prognostic indicator in cervical carcinoma.