Research from the past several years has definitively shown intermediate and high risk-type human papillomavirus (HPV) infection to play a significant role in cervical carcinogenesis. Persistent compared with intermittent infection appears to confer an elevated risk, and cofactors may be necessary to allow the virus to progress to cervical cancer. We explored the association between circulating concentrations of the antioxidant nutrients (alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, beta-cryptoxanthin, alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, and ascorbate) and persistent HPV infection among 123 low-income Hispanic women who were all nonsmokers and were not currently using vitamin and mineral supplements. In addition, the association between these nutrients and grade of cervical pathology, independent of HPV status, was assessed. Intermediate and high risk-type HPV infection was assessed by the Digene Hybrid Capture System at two time points, 3 months apart. At the second interview, cytology, colposcopy, and a fasting blood draw were conducted. Mean concentrations of serum and plasma antioxidant nutrients were calculated within categories of HPV status (two times HPV negative, one time HPV positive, and two times HPV positive) and colposcopy. Adjusted mean concentrations of serum beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and alpha- and gamma-tocopherol were on average 24% (P < 0.05) lower among women two times HPV positive compared with either two times HPV negative or one time HPV positive. Independent of HPV status, alpha-tocopherol was significantly inversely associated with grade of cervical dysplasia (normal, 21.57 microM; cervical intraepithelial neoplasia III, 17.27 microM). The results obtained in this study need to be confirmed in larger cohort studies with a longer follow-up period.