The objectives of this study were to identify human papillomavirus (HPV) genotypes in a group of Bosnian-Herzegovinian women with abnormal cytology and to assess their potential coverage by vaccines. HPVs were identified by multiplex real-time PCR test (HPV High Risk Typing Real-TM; Sacace Biotechnologies, Italy) of 105 women with an abnormal cervical Pap smear and positive high-risk (HR) HPV DNA screening test. The most common genotypes in the study were HPV-16 (32·6%, 48/147), HPV-31 (14·3%, 21/147), HPV-51 (9·5%, 14/147) and HPV-18 (7·5%, 11/147). The overall frequency of HR HPV-16 and/or HPV-18, covered by currently available vaccines [Gardasil® (Merck & Co., USA) and Cervarix®; (GlaxoSmithKline, UK)] was lower than the overall frequency of other HPVs detected in the study (40·1%, 59/174, P = 0·017). Group prevalence of HR HPVs targeted by a nine-valent vaccine in development (code-named V503) was higher than total frequency of other HPVs detected (68·0%, 100/147, P < 0·001). Development of cervical cytological abnormalities was independent of the presence of multiple infections (χ 2 = 0·598, P = 0·741). Compared to other HPVs, dependence of cervical diagnosis and HPV-16, -18 (P = 0·008) and HPV-16, -18, -31 (P = 0·008) infections were observed. Vaccines targeting HR HPV-16, -18 and -31 might be an important tool in the prevention of cervical disease in Bosnia and Herzegovina.