There is evidence that a subset of penile carcinomas is caused by infection with high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV). However, extensive studies on the possible influence of HPV infection on clinical outcome of penile cancer are lacking. This investigation is aimed to examine the prevalence of high-risk HPV in a large series of penile squamous-cell carcinomas (SCCs) and to determine the relationship between HPV and survival. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor specimens of 171 patients with penile carcinoma were tested for high-risk HPV DNA presence by GP5+/6+-PCR. The clinical course of the patients and the histopathological characteristics of the primary tumors were reviewed. High-risk HPV DNA was detected in 29% of the tumors, with HPV 16 being the predominant type, accounting for 76% of high-risk HPV containing SCCs. Disease-specific 5-year survival in the high-risk HPV-negative group and high-risk HPV-positive group was 78% and 93%, respectively (log rank test p = 0.03). In multivariate analysis, the HPV status was an independent predictor for disease-specific mortality (p = 0.01) with a hazard ratio of 0.14 (95% CI: 0.03–0.63). Our results indicate that the presence of high-risk HPV (29%) confers a survival advantage in patients with penile carcinoma. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.