Time trends in the incidence of cervical adenocarcinoma and adenosquamous cell carcinomas during the period 1973-1991 were examined using data provided by 60 population-based cancer registries from 32 defined populations in 25 countries. Three components of the incidence trend were studied: age, calendar period of diagnosis and birth cohort. Cumulative incidence rates per 1,000 for 2 groups with age ranges 25-49 and 50-74 years were calculated from the model that best described the incidence data. There was a significant increase in the cumulative incidence of cervical adenocarcinomas in women born in the mid-1930s and in successive cohorts thereafter in some populations in the United States (whites and Hispanic women), Australia, New Zealand (non-Maori), England, Scotland, Denmark, Slovenia, Slovakia and Japan (Osaka) and among Chinese women in Singapore, with a general decline in the incidence in women born in earlier periods. In Sweden and Slovenia there is a suggestion of an increasing trend in both age groups. A decrease in incidence in both age groups was apparent in Finland, France and Italy. There were no changes in incidence in 24 registries covering other European, Asian and black populations in the United States. Part of the increase may be attributable to an increasing prevalence of human papillomavirus infection, and part to improvements in screening.