A subset of human papillomavirus (HPV) genotypes is responsible for approximately 5% of all cancer deaths globally, and uterine cervical carcinoma accounts for the majority of these cases. The impact of HPV is greatest for women who do not have access to effective secondary preventive measures, and consequently over 80% of cervical cancer deaths worldwide occur in developing nations. The understanding that persistent infection by this 'oncogenic' subset of HPV genotypes is necessary for the development of cervical carcinoma has driven the development of preventive vaccines. Two preventive vaccines comprising recombinant HPV L1 virus-like particles (VLPs) have been licensed. However, the current cost of these vaccines precludes sustained global delivery, and they target only two of the approximately 15 known oncogenic HPV types, although approximately 70% of cervical cancer cases are attributed to these two types and there is evidence for some degree of cross-protection against other closely related types. A possible approach to broader immunity at lower cost is to consider vaccination against L2. L2 vaccines can be produced inexpensively and they also have the promise of conferring much broader cross-type protective immunity than that observed with L1 VLP immunization. However, L2 vaccine development lags behind L1 VLP vaccines and several technical hurdles remain.