By a combination of reversed transcription and subsequent polymerase chain reaction (RNA-PCR), 23 cytologically normal cervical scrapings, positive for the presence of human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV 16) DNA, were analyzed for the presence of transcripts originating from the E6 region of the viral genome. This region is thought to be involved in transformational, tumorigenic events. No mRNAs of the E6 region were detectable using the most sensitive PCR-mediated procedure currently available. Since it was previously shown that in cytological abnormal cervical scrapings about one-half of the samples positive for HPV 16 DNA express mRNAs of the E6 region, a difference between normal and abnormal cervical scrapings, when the HPV 16 is present, exists. The observed difference between cytologically normal and abnormal, HPV-DNA-positive cervical scrapes may eventually be used as a prognostic marker for screening of women at risk for the development of cervical carcinoma. However, firm establishment of the putative correlation between tumor progression and the presence of E6 transcripts requires extensive follow-up analysis of HPV-positive patients.