In order to analyse human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in the Senegalese population, HPV DNA was sought in 65 women with evidence of cervical cytological abnormality and in 72 pregnant women. Ninety-four percent of the patients were positive for HPV DNA as compared to 24% of pregnant women. HPV 16 was detected in cervical smears in 42% of cases, HPV 18 in 39%, HPV 6 in 26%, HPV 11 in 15%, HPV 45 in 10%, HPV 52 in 3%, and HPV 31, HPV 33 and HPV 68 in 1.5%. HPV 16 and HPV 18 were detected in 16% and 7% respectively of pregnant women. HPV DNA of unknown type was detected in 6% of cases, and multiple HPV infections were observed in 28% of cases. Low risk genital HPVs (6/11) were detected in smaller proportions (17%) among high grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (SILs) than the low grade SILs (43%). High risk HPVs (16/18) were detected in high proportions both in low and high grade SIL lesions, though the highest frequency (70%) was observed among patients with high grade lesions. In conclusion, the results confirm that HPV infections are frequent in Senegal and that HPV 18 and 45 are detected in a high proportion of patients in Africa.