Deletions or mutations of the retinoblastoma gene, RB1, are common features of many tumors and tumor cell lines. Recently, the RB1 gene product, p105-RB, has been shown to form stable protein/protein complexes with the oncoproteins of two DNA tumor viruses, the adenovirus E1A proteins and the simian virus 40 (SV40) large T antigen. Neither of these viruses is thought to be associated with human cancer, but they can cause tumors in rodents. Binding between the RB anti-oncoprotein and the adenovirus or SV40 oncoprotein can be recapitulated in vitro with coimmunoprecipitation mixing assays. These assays have been used to demonstrate that the E7 oncoprotein of the human papilloma virus type--16 can form similar complexes with p105-RB. Human papilloma virus--16 is found associated with approximately 50 percent of cervical carcinomas. These results suggest that these three DNA viruses may utilize similar mechanisms in transformation and implicate RB binding as a possible step in human papilloma virus--associated carcinogenesis.