The growing awareness of the role of human papillomavirus (HPV) in cervical carcinoma has triggered a search for uncomplicated detection methods. To define a serologic response to HPV, we synthesized peptides based on sequences deduced from the genome of HPV type 16, the most common malignancy-associated type of HPV. One of these peptides reacted with IgA antibodies present in sera from 24 of 33 patients with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or cervical carcinoma, whereas this peptide reacted with only 6 of 27 sera from individuals without cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. Immunoaffinity-purified human antipeptide IgA antibodies detected HPV-specific 58- and 48-kDa proteins in cervical carcinoma cell extracts and also detected a nuclear antigen in HPV-carrying cervical cancer cell lines and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia biopsied tissue. These antigens were also detected with mouse monoclonal and rabbit polyclonal antibodies to the same peptide. The results indicate that screening for infection with malignancy-associated types of HPV may be possible by simple synthetic peptide-based serology.