The p53 codon 72 genotype was examined in blood samples taken from 121 Zulu-speaking black South African women with histologically proven squamous carcinoma of the cervix. Freshly biopsied tumour tissue was also available for human papillomavirus subtyping from 100 of these women. A control group consisted of 251 healthy race-matched women attending a contraceptive service facility. The results show that there were no statistically significant differences in the frequency of the homozygous arginine genotype between patients with cancer of cervix, irrespective of human papillomavirus status, and healthy controls. This finding suggests that the arginine allele does not predispose towards viral tumour genesis in this population, and supports the findings of research done in other ethnic groups.