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AIM: To investigate the role of human papillomavirus (HPV) in adenoid cystic carcinoma of the uterine cervix. METHODS: Eleven archival, paraffin wax embedded specimens were analysed by non-isotopic in situ hybridisation (NISH) for HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, and 33 using digoxigenin labelled probes. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was carried out on each of the cases using consensus primers to HPV. RESULTS: A total of eight adenoid cystic carcinomas harboured the HPV genome by NISH, of which five were PCR positive. Integrated HPV 16 DNA was demonstrated in seven of the eight NISH positive cases. One adenoid cystic carcinoma showed integrated HPV 31. HPV DNA was not detected in the three remaining cases. CONCLUSIONS: Integrated high risk HPV genome, in particular type 16, is associated with this uncommon type of primary cervical cancer.