AIM: To test a new assay for the detection of human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA, hybrid capture II (HC II), compared with the previous commercialized hybrid capture I (HC I) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) results on cervical scrapes from fresh cone excision biopsy samples. METHODS: The three methods were used on cervical scrapes from 42 fresh cone excision biopsy samples. There were nine metaplastic and inflammatory lesions, five low grade lesions, and 28 high grade lesions. PCR was performed using the general primers GP5+/GP6+. The viral load of high risk HPV DNA was estimated by the ratio of relative light units to positive control values in the samples. RESULTS: The sensitivity of HC I for the detection of high grade lesions was 71.4%, while it was 92.8% for HC II and 96.4% for the PCR. Considering only the absence of detectable cervical in situ neoplasia, the specificity was 88.9% for HC I, 66.7% for HC II, and 66.7% for PCR. With HC II, for a ratio of cervical sample to normal control of > 200, the sensitivity for the detection of high grade lesion was only 34.6% with a specificity of 66.7%. CONCLUSIONS: HPV detection with the HC II assay is more sensitive than the previous HC I and represents a more convenient and easier test than PCR for routine use. Nevertheless the viral load estimated with this test cannot be a reliable predictive indicator of high grade lesions.