Objective To investigate the agreement between conventional colposcopic impression, dynamic spectral imaging (DSI) colposcopy and histology, for human papillomavirus type 16-positive (HPV16(+)) and non-16 high-risk (hr) HPV + women. Design Prospective, comparative, multicentre clinical trial. Setting Three colposcopy clinics in the Netherlands. Population Women (n = 177) aged 18 years or over with an intact cervix, referred for colposcopy. Methods The colposcopist graded the lesion by using the DSI colposcope as a regular video colposcope. Subsequently the DSI impression was displayed and biopsies were taken from all abnormal areas as well as from a random (normal) site. A cervical smear was taken for HPV typing. Main outcome measures Histologically confirmed high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or cancer (CIN2(+)), positive for HPV16 or for any other hrHPV type. Results The DSI colposcope identified more CIN2(+) cervical lesions among HPV16(+) women than in non-16 hrHPV(+) women (P = 0.032 regardless of final histology and P = 0.009 among women with CIN2(+)). Consequently, the sensitivity of the DSI colposcope for detecting CIN2(+) lesions was higher in HPV16(+) women than in non-16 hrHPV(+) women (97% versus 74%, P = 0.009). No such differences were seen for the colposcopist impression. In addition, mainly smaller cervical lesions are missed by the col Conclusions The sensitivity of DSI colposcopy for CIN2(+) is higher in HPV16(+) than in non-16 hrHPV(+) women. Furthermore, regardless of HPV16 status, the sensitivity of DSI for CIN2(+) is higher than that of the colposcopist, probably because colposcopists tend to miss smaller cervical lesions.