One hundred and forty-eight randomly chosen neutral-buffered formaldehyde-fixed cervical biopsies in which cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN) I-III had been diagnosed were tested for HPV (human papilloma virus) DNA by in situ hybridization (ISH) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). For ISH, we utilized a biotinylated panprobe and type-specific, genomic probe sets. For PCR, we used the general primers GP5/GP6 and their recently described, elongated version GP5+/GP6+, and included the modification of hot-start PCR. Amplified DNA was detected by gel electrophoresis and slot blot hybridization. The positivity rate of ISH was 59% for all biopsies and 69%, 62% and 46% for CIN I, II and III, respectively. The sensitivity of GP5/GP6 was 74% with cold-start PCR and 78% with hot-start PCR. When GP5+/GP6+ was used, the sensitivity increased to 89% with cold-start PCR and to 95% with hot-start PCR. Based on the most sensitive PCR technique, HPV detection was 93%, 95% and 96% in CIN I, II and III, respectively. The number of HPV types decreased with the severity of the lesion, and HPV 16 was the predominant type. Multiple HPVs were rare and almost all HPV-positive cases could be typed. ISH and slot blot hybridization correlated well regarding HPV typing specificity. Our results confirm that distinct HPV types are present in a high proportion of cases of CIN. The sensitivity of ISH is lower than that of PCR. Furthermore, the modified general primers GP5+/GP6+ give a higher yield than GP5/GP6, while hot-start PCR increases sensitivity even further.