The aim of this study was to assess the expression of cytokine transcripts, reflecting the type of ongoing immune responses at the site of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, in relation to the development of cervical neoplasia. To this end reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was performed for interferon (IFN)γ, interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, IL-12 (p35 and p40), and transforming growth factor (TGFβ1) in snap-frozen cervical biopsies, which were tested for the presence of high risk HPV DNA and histologically classified from normal to invasive carcinoma (n = 40). IFNγ, IL-10 and IL-12 (p35 and p40) transcripts were found to be expressed at significantly lower frequencies in invasive carcinoma as compared with premalignant biopsies (P=0.006, P=0.007 and P=0.002, respectively). IFNγ and IL-10 mRNA were associated with the presence of the IL-12 p35 and p40 transcripts (P=0.008 and P<0.00001, respectively). These results were consistent with a locally reduced cellular (type 1) immunity correlating with HPV-induced invasive cervical carcinoma.