Background & objectives: There is no ideal screening method for cervical cancer in India with the role of human papilloma virus (HPV) detection yet to be established. This study was undertaken to compare the diagnostic accuracy of HPV testing by hybrid capture II (HC-II) with conventional cervical smear cytology for squamous intraepithelial lesions (SIL). Methods: This prospective study was conducted at New Delhi during 2003-2004 with patients selected from the gynaecology out patients of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Initial screening by a questionnaire and per-speculum examination were used to select high-risk patients. Patients, in whom conventional cytology, HC-II test and colposcopy-directed biopsy were done, formed the basis of this study.