We conducted a randomized controlled trial to determine whether HPV self-sampling increases participation in cervical screening by never- and under-screened (not screened in past 5 years) women when compared with a reminder letter for a Pap test. Never- or under-screened Victorian women aged 30-69 years, not pregnant and with no prior hysterectomy were eligible. Within each stratum (never-screened and under-screened), we randomly allocated 7,140 women to self-sampling and 1,020 to Pap test reminders. The self-sampling kit comprised a nylon tipped flocked swab enclosed in a dry plastic tube. The primary outcome was participation, as indicated by returning a swab or undergoing a Pap test; the secondary outcome, for women in the self-sampling arm with a positive HPV test, was undergoing appropriate clinical investigation. The Roche Cobas® 4800 test was used to measure presence of HPV DNA. Participation was higher for the self-sampling arm: 20.3 versus 6.0% for never-screened women (absolute difference 14.4%, 95% CI: 12.6-16.1%, p < 0.001) and 11.5 versus 6.4% for under-screened women (difference 5.1%, 95% CI: 3.4-6.8%, p < 0.001). Of the 1,649 women who returned a swab, 45 (2.7%) were positive for HPV16/18 and 95 (5.8%) were positive for other high-risk HPV types. Within 6 months, 28 (62.2%) women positive for HPV16/18 had colposcopy as recommended and nine (20%) had cytology only. Of women positive for other high-risk HPV types, 78 (82.1%) had a Pap test as recommended. HPV self-sampling improves participation in cervical screening for never- and under-screened women and most women with HPV detected have appropriate clinical investigation.