At present more than 70 human papillomaviruses (HPV) genotypes have been described and each shows a predilection for a cutaneous or mucosal surface. There is a strong association between infection with specific genital viruses (i.e., types 16 and 18) and the development of cervical cancer. Thus, intervention with the natural history of HPV infection in the genital tract may form the basis for an effective anticancer strategy. We have shown that treatment of cell lines derived from human cervical carcinomas [i.e., SiHa and CaSki (HPV-16-positive)] and HeLa (HPV-18-positive)] with HPMPC (cidofovir) results in a concentration- and time-dependent inhibition of cell proliferation. We report here the effects of HPMPC on the growth of cervical carcinoma (SiHa) xenografts in athymic nude mice. Athymic mice between the age of 6 and 8 weeks were injected SC with 5 to 10x10(6) cells. Once tumors were established, the mice were injected with PBS (placebo), HPMPC, or cytarabine (AraC) at the tumor site. Animals that were injected intratumorally with HPMPC at a dose of 5 mg/ml (0.25 mg/injection) or 10 mg/ml (0.5 mg/injection) three or five times per week, once daily, during 4 weeks showed a statistically significant reduction in tumor size compared to the placebo group or AraC group. However, when HMPC was administered topically (as a cream) or systemically (intraperitoneally), no reduction of tumor growth was observed at nontoxic concentrations, suggesting that a high local concentration of HPMPC is required to achieve a significant decrease of tumor growth.