Cervical cancer, which is caused by oncogenic types of the human papillomavirus (HPV), is the second most common cancer in women, responsible for 274,000 deaths worldwide in 2002. Approximately 70% of all cervical cancers are caused by the two most common oncogenic HPV types, HPV-16 and HPV-18; another 10% are caused by the next most common types, HPV-45 and HPV-31. Therefore, vaccines designed to prevent infection with oncogenic HPV types have the potential to decrease morbidity and mortality associated with cervical cancer and precancerous lesions. Vaccinology research recently has developed tools that may be used to improve the safety and efficacy of vaccines, and several of these tools have been used in the development of HPV vaccines. These advances include new insight into antigen selection, inclusion of adjuvants designed to enhance the immunogenicity of vaccines, and investigation into alternative routes of administration. Clinical studies of HPV vaccines that take advantage of these technological advances have reported excellent safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy results for prevention of HPV infection and incidence of associated cytopathologic abnormalities. © 2007 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.