To detect DNA and proteins of human papillomavirus (HPV) in paraffin-embedded retinoblastoma (RB) tissue, to identify the viral types present and to describe a possible association between the presence of HPV and a particular form of RB. Fifty-one samples from ocular tissues of RB patients and of six controls enucleated for non-neoplastic reasons were obtained and analyzed by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) with consensus primers to detect HPV. Viral type identification was performed by Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphisms (RFLP) analysis. To corroborate the presence of HPV, immunohistochemical analysis with a polyclonal anti-HPV antibody was performed in 10 RB cases and in all controls. Forty-two (82.3%) of the 51 samples were HPV-positive. HPV 6 was detected in 40 cases (95.2%), HPV 33 in 16 (38.1%), HPV 11 in 4 (9.5%) and HPV 31, 35 and 51 each in one case (2.3%). All controls were negative for HPV-DNA. The positive samples were PCR-tested for HPV 16 and 18 using specific primers, and were all negative. For immunohistochemical analysis, 7 out of 10 PCR-positive samples randomly chosen were positive; all six controls were negative. No differences in the HPV type distribution were found between the groups formed according to the tumor presentation or to the mode of inheritance.