This study evaluates the association of antibodies against HPV-16-derived peptides with cervical cancer and estimates the sensitivity and specificity of the serological assays in relation to HPV DNA detection in cervical cells by PCR. Study subjects were derived from 4 case-control studies carried out in Spain and Colombia. Sera from 544 cases of CIN III and invasive cancer and of 543 age-matched controls were tested for antibodies to 5 peptides derived from E2, E7 (3 partially overlapping frames of HPV 16 denoted E7/ 1, E7/2, E7/3) and L2 open reading frames of HPV 16. HPV DNA was detected using a L1-PCR based method. Among cancer controls, antibody response to E2 and E7/1, E7/2, E7/3 was higher in Colombia (22.5%,7.2%,11.7%,12.6% respectively) than in Spain (17.1 %, 4.7%, 5.9%, 5.9%). E7 antibodies were related to stage, particularly in CIN III vs. invasive stages and less markedly within invasive stages. Detection of antibodies to the E7/1 was associated to CIN III (OR = 1.8). The risk of invasive cervical cancer was increased among those with antibodies to E2 (OR = 2.2), to E7/1 (OR = 4.2), to E7/2 (OR = 4.3), and to E7/3 (OR = 2.5). Presence of antibodies to all the 3 E7 peptides increased the risk of CIN III (OR = 5.6) and that of invasive cancer (OR = 17.5). High levels of antibodies to E7/1 or E7/2 or E7/3 increased the risk of invasive cervical cancer (OR for high levels of antibodies vs. negatives to E7/1 OR = 22.6; E7/2 OR = 7.5, E7/3 OR = 3.4). In the present analysis, antibodies to L2 were not associated with either CIN III or cervical cancer. Serological markers of HPV 16 detected less than half of the HPV-16-DNA-positive cases. It is concluded that antibodies to E2 and particularly E7 antigens are strongly associated with cervical cancer. Antibodies to E7 seem to be a moderate marker of tumor burden.