Nineteen cutaneous and mucocutaneous papillomas, as well as 29 oral and 25 non-oral squamous cell carcinomas of dogs were analyzed immunohistologically for the presence of papillomavirus (PV)-antigens. Canine oral papillomavirus (COPV)-DNA was detected in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and non-radioactive in situ hybridization (ISH). Furthermore, the expression of the tumor suppressor protein p53 was investigated. PV-antigens were detectable in more than 50% of the oral and cutaneous papillomas, while no PV-antigens could be demonstrated in venereal papillomas. One squamous cell carcinoma was PV-antigen positive. Only two cutaneous papillomas of the head showed a strong p53-specific immunostaining, while overexpressed p53 was detectable in approximately 35% of all squamous cell carcinomas. It was possible to amplify fragments of the E6, E7 and L1 gene by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) from five of eight oral and from five of eight cutaneous papillomas as well as from three oral squamous cell carcinomas. Nine of 10 papillomas showed a strong nucleus-associated hybridization signal typical for COPV-DNA. In three squamous cell carcinomas COPV-DNA was located in nests of the epithelial tumor cells surrounding 'horn pearls' or disseminated in the carcinoma tissue. These observations support the view that COPV may also induce non-oral papillomas in the dog and confirm the opinion that a progression of viral papillomas into carcinomas in dogs may occur.