Our aim was to determine the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18 in cervical adenocarcinoma (and its precursors) in Scottish patients. Nucleic acid was extracted from paraffin-embedded, formalin-fixed tissues. We examined 119 cases of invasive adenocarcinoma, 20 cases of adenocarcinoma in situ, and 16 cases of normal glandular epithelium. HPV DNA was detected by polymerase chain reaction using type-specific primers for the E6 and E7 genes of HPV-16 and HPV-18 with conformation of HPV genotype by subsequent restriction fragment length polymorphism. HPV DNA was identified in 87 (62.6%) cases, with HPV-16 being detectable in 65 (47%) cases and HPV-18 in 41 (29%) cases. All the cases of normal tissue tested negative for HPV-16 and/or HPV-18. No significant relation between infecting HPV type (16 or 18) and subtypes of disease (within the invasive category and between the preinvasive and the invasive categories) was noted. Our findings support that HPV-16, along with HPV-18, are likely to play a significant role in the pathogenesis of cervical adenocarcinomas and that cervical cancer screening strategies that incorporate oncogenic HPV testing, and prophylactic vaccines that target these types, will be beneficial for the reduction of adenocarcinoma and associated glandular precursors.