Abstract Papillomaviruses are species- and tissue-specific double-stranded DNA viruses. These viruses cause epithelial tumours in many animals, including man. Typically, the benign warts undergo spontaneous, immune-mediated regression, most likely effected by T-cells (especially CD4, but also CD8 subsets), whereas humoral immunity can prevent new infections. Some papillomavirus infections fail to regress spontaneously and others progress to malignant epithelial tumours. Additionally, the impact of these lesions is greater in immunosuppressed individuals. Many therapies are ineffective, and there is much interest in the potential for immunological intervention in papillomavirus infections of man and animals. Vaccination can be achieved with ‘live’ virus, formalin-inactivated virus, synthetic virus-like particles, and DNA vaccination. There has been much recent progress in the development of such vaccines for papillomavirus infections in the rabbit, ox and dog. Success in these animal models suggests that similar approaches may prove useful for prophylactic or therapeutic vaccination against the important human papillomaviruses involved in the development of cutaneous and anogenital warts, laryngeal papillomatosis, and cervical cancer.