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Fifty-six per cent of invited women aged 25–60 attended the Population-based Cervical Cancer Screening Programme (PCCSP) in Stockholm, Sweden in 1994–1996. The objective of this study was to explore factors related to participation in this PCCSP. Registry data on all women aged 25–60 invited to the PCCSP from 1994 to 1996 (n=307 552) was matched with a national longitudinal population database. Women in the youngest age group (25–29 years old) were found to be less likely to participate in the PCCSP than women in older age groups. Married women or widows attended the programme more often (OR 1.32, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.29–1.34 and OR 1.36, 95% CI 1.27–1.45, respectively) than did single women. Women in the labour force were more likely to participate than those who were not in the labour force (OR 1.82, 95% CI 1.78–1.87). The participation rate was not lower for immigrant women from developing countries than for those born in Sweden. We found that age, marital status and being in the labour force or not are factors associated with participation in the cervical cancer screening programme.