DNA from one biopsy sample of invasive cancer of the cervix contained sequences hybridizing with human papillomavirus (HPV) type 11 DNA only under nonstringent conditions. This DNA was molecularly cloned in lambda phage. Under stringent conditions of hybridization it cross-hybridized to a minor extent (less than 0.1%) with HPV types 10, 14, and 15 and showed no homology with DNA of other human HPV types. We therefore propose to designate it tentatively as HPV 16. HPV 16 DNA was used as a probe to test additional cancer biopsy samples from cervical, vulval, and penile cancer, as well as benign genital warts (condylomata acuminata) and cervical dysplasias for the presence of homologous sequences. In 61.1% (11/18) of cervical cancer samples from German patients sequences were found hybridizing with HPV 16 DNA under conditions of high stringency. In contrast, only 34.8% (8/23) of cancer biopsy samples from Kenya and Brazil revealed this DNA. Vulval and penile cancer biopsy samples hybridized to 28.6% (2/7) or 25% (1/4), respectively. Only 2 out of 33 condylomata acuminata contained HPV 16 DNA. Both positive tumors harbored in addition HPV 6 or HPV 11 DNA. The data thus indicate that HPV 16 DNA prevails in malignant tumors, rendering an accidental contamination with papillomavirus DNA from adjacent papillomas rather unlikely. The rare presence in benign genital papillomas in addition to common genital papillomaviruses suggests a dependence of HPV 16 replication on helper virus.