This study focused on infection rates and subtypes of human papillomavirus (HPV) in patients with oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), and the relationship between HPV status and prognosis of the disease. We evaluated sixty-six OSCC patients who met the enrollment criteria during the period from January 1999 to December 2009. The presence or absence of oncogenic HPV types in tumors was determined using the SPF10 LiPA25 assay. Overall survival (OS) and disease specific survival (DSS) for HPV positive and HPV negative patients were estimated using Kaplan–Meier analysis. The Cox regression model was applied for multivariate analysis. HPV-DNA was detected in 11(16.7%) of all specimens. Among them, 7 were type HPV-16, while other types were HPV-16/11, HPV-35, HPV-58/52, and HPV-33/52/54. Patients with HPV positive tumors were more likely to be female, non-smokers and non-drinkers (p=0.002, 0.001 and 0.001, respectively). After a median follow-up of 24.5 months, patients with HPV positive tumors had significantly better overall survival (HR=0.106[95%CI=0.014-0.787], p=0.016,) and disease specific survival (HR=0.121[95%CI=0.016-0.906], p=0.030). Patients with HPV positive OSCC have significantly better prognosis than patients with HPV negative tumors. HPV infection is an independent prognostic factor.