We studied histologic examination-related factors contributing to false-negative colposcopic biopsy results. Patients positive for high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA with negative cervical histologic findings were identified between January 2002 and December 2003. Three additional H&E-stained levels were obtained when the original diagnosis was confirmed on review. Patients with atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASC) Papanicolaou test results, positive HPV DNA results, and negative cervical histologic findings accounted for 4.5% of all ASC smears submitted for HPV DNA testing. Slides and tissue blocks were available for 95 cases; 4% had focal HPV infection or mild dysplasia. When deeper levels were examined, 31% had clinically significant lesions: HPV infection or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) 1, 19%; CIN 2/3, 8%; and dysplasia, not otherwise specified, 3%. Of the remaining patients, follow-up revealed squamous abnormalities in 25%. About 5% of patients with positive HPV DNA results had a negative follow-up biopsy result. "False-negative" biopsies accounted for one third of cases. Additional levels should be obtained for discrepant results. Close follow-up is crucial when the initial biopsy result is negative because a small number of patients will have squamous abnormalities in subsequent studies. © American Society for Clinical Pathology.