Immunization of rabbits with either L1, the major structural protein, or L2, a minor structural protein of cottontail rabbit papillomavirus (CRPV), protected against challenge with the virus. Neutralizing antibodies were elicited by both the L1 and L2 trpE fusion proteins. Neutralization with anti-L1 serum, however, was more efficient than with anti-L2 serum. In contrast, when tested on Western blots the immune response to L2 was stronger than to L1. Rabbits were also protected against CRPV infection by immunization with L1 expressing recombinant vaccinia virus. Sera from two of three rabbits immunized with recombinant vaccinia virus were negative on Western blots but all three were positive in ELISA's with nondenatured fusion protein or in immunoprecipitations. The results suggest that both the viral structural proteins, L1 and L2, merit consideration in the development of a vaccine against papillomavirus.