Few natural history studies of cervical human papillomavirus (HPV) incidence and duration have been conducted among older women, especially from multiethnic populations. Viral and nonviral determinants of HPV acquisition and clearance were examined among 972 sexually active women, ages 18 to 85 years, recruited from clinics on Oahu, Hawaii, and followed for a mean duration of 15 months (range, 2-56 months). Interviews and cervical cell specimens for cytology and HPV DNA detection by PCR, using the PGMY09/PGMY11 primer system, were obtained at baseline and at 4-month intervals. The prevalence of cervical HPV infection was 25.6% at study entry. A total of 476 incident genotype-specific infections were observed during the follow-up period. The incidence of high-risk (HR) HPV types (9.26 per 1,000 woman-months) was similar to low-risk (LR) HPV types (8.24 per 1,000 woman-months). The most commonly acquired HR-HPV types were HPV-52, HPV-16, and HPV-31; and their incidence was increased significantly with a coexisting cervical HPV infection. Cervical HPV acquisition decreased with age, income, and long-term use of oral contraceptives and increased with number of sexual partners, use of hormonal creams, alcohol drinking, and condom use by a sexual partner. Cohort participants cleared 265 of the 476 incident infections during follow-up. LR-HPV infections cleared more rapidly than did HR-HPV infections (median, 180 days versus 224 days). Clearance times were enhanced among older women and women with multiple infections. Our data suggest several viral and nonviral determinants of cervical HPV acquisition and clearance that might be used in cervical cancer prevention programs.