We screened 145 HIV-infected non-pregnant women at a tertiary care centre in Lusaka, Zambia. Liquid-based cytology and human papillomavirus (HPV) genotyping with PGMY09/11 biotinylated primers (Roche Linear Array® HPV genotyping test) maximised sensitivity of cytology and HPV assessments. Among high-risk (HR) types, HPV 52 (37.2%), 58 (24.1%) and 53 (20.7%) were more common overall than HPV 16 (17.2%) and 18 (13.1%) in women with high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) on cytology. High-risk HPV types were more likely to be present in women with CD4+ cell counts <200 μ l-1 (odds ratios (OR): 4.9, 95% confidence intervals (CI): 1.4-16.7, P=0.01) and in women with high-grade or severe cervical cytological abnormalities (OR: 8.0, 95% CI: 1.7-37.4, P=0.008). Human papillomavirus diversity in high-grade lesions and SCC on cytology suggests that HPV 16- and 18-based vaccines may not be adequately polyvalent to induce protective immunity in this population. © 2007 Cancer Research.