The expression of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) was studied in human papillomavirus (HPV)-infected, benign and malignant lesions of the genital tract and larynx using immunocytochemical staining of formalin-fixed clinical specimens. We observed the induction of PCNA in squamous carcinomas and adenocarcinomas, as has been demonstrated with other malignancies. In addition, the differentiated keratinocytes of the upper spinous cells and granulocytes in condylomata acuminata and low-grade intraepithelial neoplasias showed a consistent induction of PCNA compared with the normal squamous epithelium, in which only some of the parabasal and basal cells were positive. This reactivation of PCNA synthesis correlated with the presence of high copy numbers of HPV DNA and was independent of the oncogenic risk potential of the infecting HPV genotype. We postulate that HPV gene products induce the expression of PCNA and other components of the host DNA replication machinery in differentiated cells of squamous lesions to facilitate vegetative viral replication. © 1994.