The incidence of cervical cancer in Greenlandic women aged 20‐39 years is nearly 6 times higher than in Danish women of the same age. Possible determinants of cervical cancer incidence were investigated in a population‐based cross‐sectional study. From Nuuk (Greenland) and Nykøbing Falster (Denmark) a sample of 800 women aged 20‐39 years was drawn at random. A total of 586 and 661 women were studied in Greenland and Denmark, respectively. All underwent a personal interview. In Greenland, 13% of the women reported first intercourse before the age of 14 in contrast to 3.5% in Denmark, and nearly 85% of the Greenlanders had their sexual debut before the end of the 16th year of age whereas this applied to only 45% of the Danish women. The prevalence of women with 0‐1 lifetime sexual partner was 20.4% in Denmark, and only 1.7% in Greenland. In contrast, 53.2% of the Greenlandic women reported more than 20 partners and 22.4% more than 40 partners. The corresponding figures for Denmark were 3.6% and 0.3%, respectively. In Greenland the most common contraceptive method was the use of intra‐uterine devices (73.6%), whereas, in Denmark, oral contraceptive use was most frequent (87.9%). Few Greenlanders had ever used “barrier” contraceptives (diaphragm: 1.4%; condom: 18.1%) compared to Denmark (diaphragm: 10.1%; condom: 53.9%). As many as 87.4% were current smokers in Greenland (Denmark: 53.6%) and 5.6% claimed to have never smoked, whereas this applied to 35.3% in Denmark. The indications of a higher sexual activity (multiple partners, early age at first intercourse) in Greenland compared to Denmark are in line with the observed higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases and with the hypothesis that differences in cervical cancer incidence between Greenland and Denmark are determined by aspects of sexual background.