Human papillomavirus (HPV) is now known to be a risk factor for the development of cervical cancer. This study examines women's knowledge of cervical screening and dysplasia and HPV. The entire female work force of a medium-sized UK university received a questionnaire concerning knowledge of cervical screening, treatment for abnormalities and HPV. Four hundred women returned completed questionnaires. Knowledge of early cervical cancer detection and screening methods was good. However, risk factors for cervical cancer were not well known. Awareness and knowledge of HPV was very limited. Past experience of an abnormal smear result and colposcopy was significantly associated with good knowledge of cervical screening, but not with knowledge of HPV. It is essential to improve women's understanding of this area in the context of plans to include screening for HPV in the UK's national cervical screening programme.