Genital infections with human papillomavirus (HPV) are increasingly recognized as a significant source of human disease; HPV is now implicated in up to 90% of cervical carcinomas. Neutralizing antibodies against papillomaviruses recognize conformational epitopes formed when viral capsid proteins assemble into virions or virus-like particles. Immunization with plasmid DNA encoding the major viral capsid protein L1 was studied as a means of inducing neutralizing antibodies and protection against virus challenge. In a cottontail rabbit papillomavirus (CRPV) model, immunization with plasmid DNA encoding L1 elicited conformationally specific neutralizing antibodies and provided immunity against papilloma formation upon challenge with CRPV. Immunization with DNA encoding the capsid protein may provide a means of protecting humans against HPV and would simplify the production of multivalent vaccines by combining plasmids that encode the viral capsid proteins of different strains. This may be of importance given the multiplicity of HPV types capable of causing disease.