Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are accepted as a necessary cause of cervical neoplasia. However, the benefits of testing simply for high-risk HPV types are limited because of their high prevalence in intraepithelial lesions of all grades, the majority of which regress if left untreated. One factor considered to be of key importance for the progression of intraepithelial lesions to invasive disease is integration of HPV into the host cell genome. Although questions remain about the prevalence of integration amongst pre-invasive lesions, sensitive in situ hybridization techniques utilizing tyramide reagents may aid determination of the significance of HPV infection by enabling routine detection of both high-risk HPV and its physical status. This will provide important data relevant not only to our understanding of the biology of HPV-associated neoplasia, but also potentially to clinical testing for HPV. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.