Retinoblastoma is the most frequent intra-ocular malignant tumor of the childhood, occurring in 1 of 18,000-30,000 live births. Little is known about the causes of sporadic retinoblastoma and only a few authors have investigated the etiologic role of human papillomavirus (HPV), with controversial results. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue blocks containing retinoblastoma were retrieved from the archives of the Department of Pathology at Hospital A C Camargo, Sao Paulo, Brazil. All patients were treated with enucleation (21 children had both eyes enucleated). Retinoblastoma and, when possible, normal retina of each specimen, were micro-dissected under direct light microscopic visualization by using a PixCell II Laser Capture Micro-dissection System. The DNA quality was evaluated by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of 110 base pairs fragment of the human beta-globin gene using primers PCO3+/PCO4+. All globin positive specimens were analyzed by PCR for the presence of HPV DNA using consensus primers GP5+/GP6+. A total of 154 specimens were evaluated. Forty-four patients also had normal retinal specimens available for analysis of DNA HPV. The DNA HPV prevalence among all tumor specimens was 4.6% (95% CI 2.0; 8.8) (7 positive specimens/153 adequate specimens). Among normal retinal specimens, the DNA HPV prevalence was 9.1% (95% CI 2.9; 20.5) (4 positive specimens/44 specimens). There was no statistically significant difference between these rates (P = 0.318). Excluding any experimental failure, our results indicate a low prevalence of HPV DNA in retinoblastomas. We were therefore unable to conclude about the association between these oncogenic viruses and this rare pediatric neoplasm.