Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is histologically the most prominent type of cervical cancer. There is accumulating evidence suggesting that microRNAs (miRNAs) play important regulatory roles in the biological processes of cervical squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC). Deciphering the miRNA regulatory network in CSCC could deepen our understanding at the molecular level of CSCC initiation and progression. In the present study, we performed next‑generation sequencing (NGS) to profile miRNA expression in 3 pairs of early-stage CSCC samples. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) was used to verify primary findings in another 20 pairs of CSCC samples. We identified 37 known miRNAs that exhibited significant alterations in expression (2-fold change or greater), among which 8 miRNAs were upregulated and 29 miRNAs were downregulated. Nine of these miRNAs were selected for further qRT-PCR validation. A novel miRNA candidate was also reported for the first time in the present study to be upregulated. The Gene Ontology (GO) analysis and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway enrichment analysis revealed that its target genes were involved in MAPK, calcium and adherent junction signaling pathways. The present study systematically characterized the miRNA expression variation in early-stage CSCC and provides novel biomarkers for diagnosis and treatment as well as an opportunity for further investigation of the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis and development of CSCC.