Squamous-cell carcinoma of the cervix and its precursor lesions are associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Epidemiological studies indicate that HPV infection in itself is not sufficient for cervical-cancer induction, suggesting that other factors contribute to carcinogenesis. We have investigated the potential role of host genetic background as one such factor. We screened a series of squamous-cell carcinomas of the cervix for HLA-class-II DQB1* alleles by the polymerase chain reaction and site-specific oligonucleotide probe hybridization and for HPV type from African-American women using a local, ethnically matched control panel. Statistically significant associations for increase in relative risk for cervical cancer were seen for DQB1*0303 and DQB1*0604. DQB1*0201 and the heterozygote DQB1*0301/*0501 showed a decrease in relative risk for cervical cancer. HPV typing revealed no association between virus type and DQB1 alleles. Our results confirm other studies showing an increase in relative risk for cervical cancer associated with HLA-DQ3 alleles in Caucasians.