With respect to cervical cancer management, Finland and the Netherlands are comparable in relevant characteristics, e.g., fertility rate, age-of-mother at first birth and a national screening programme for several years. The aim of this study is to compare trends in incidence of and mortality from cervical cancer in Finland and the Netherlands in relation to the introduction and intensity of the screening programmes. Therefore, incidence and mortality rates were calculated using the Cancer Registries of Finland and the Netherlands. Data on screening intensity were obtained from the Finnish Cancer Registry and the Dutch evaluation centre at ErasmusMC-Rotterdam. Women aged 30–60 have been screened every 5 years, in Finland since 1992 and in the Netherlands since 1996. Screening protocols for smear taking and referral to the gynaecologist are comparable. Incidence and mortality rates have declined more in Finland. In 2003, age-adjusted incidence and mortality in Finland were 4.0 and 0.9 and in the Netherlands 4.9 and 1.4 per 100,000 woman-years, respectively. Excess smear use in the Netherlands was estimated to be 24 per 1,000 women during a 5-year interval compared to 121 in Finland. The decline in mortality in Finland seems to be almost completely related to the screening programme whereas in the Netherlands it was initially considered to be a natural decline. Differences in risk factors might also play a role: the Netherlands has higher population density and higher percentages of immigrants and (female) smokers. The greater excess smear use in Finland might also have affected incidence. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.