Cervical cancer remains the commonest cancer cause of death among women in developing countries, largely due to the failure to establish cytologically based cervical cancer screening programmes. There are many barriers to the establishment of screening programmes in poor countries ranging from limited financial, human and health resources to the complex infrastructural requirements of traditional screening programmes. Alternative approaches to cervical cancer prevention are currently being investigated, including primary prevention with prophylactic vaccines against human papillomavirus to alternative screening tests and protocols. These will be explored in this review.