AIM: To investigate the immunocytochemical staining pattern of mdm2 and p21WAF1 proteins in invasive cervical cancer and to determine its relation with the expression of p53 and with the high risk HPV infection. METHODS: Immunocytochemistry for p53, mdm2, and p21WAF1 was performed in 31 paraffin embedded sections of invasive cervical cancer. The results were assessed by image analysis, evaluating for each protein the optical density of the immunostained area, scored as percentage of the total nuclear area. The presence of high risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection was detected by using the polymerase chain reaction. RESULTS: Immunostaining for both mdm2 and p21WAF1 was correlated with p53 expression; however, the correlation between p53 and mdm2 (R = 0.49; p < 0.01) was more significant than between p53 and p21WAF1 (R = 0.31; p < 0.05); the less stringent correlation between p53 and p21WAF1 might reflect the p53 independent mechanisms of p21WAF1 induction. Similar average levels of p53, mdm2, and p21WAF1 immunostaining were found in the presence or absence of high risk HPV-DNA, without significant differences between the two groups. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that mdm2 and p21WAF1 proteins are expressed in invasive cervical cancer and that their immunocytochemical staining pattern is not abrogated by the presence of high risk HPV genomic sequences.