The human papillomavirus (HPV), a ubiquitous sexually transmitted virus, is the causative agent for cervical dysplasia and carcinoma worldwide. Current treatment methods primarily utilize ablative and excisional procedures to remove dysplastic, HPV-infected cervical tissue. However, these procedures require intensive cytopathological surveillance and carry inherent risks of bleeding, infection and possible future pregnancy complications. Development of an effective vaccine against HPV would dramatically reduce the need for costly cytological and histological surveillance. HPV represents an ideal candidate for vaccine development, and current research efforts in the realm of prophylactic and therapeutic vaccine design show great promise. A host of various vaccine techniques are currently being developed and tested and, if effective, will have a significant impact on the incidence of cervical dysplasia and carcinoma. © 2006 Future Drugs Ltd.