Cervical cancer and its precursor intra-epithelial lesions are linked to infection by a subset of human papillomavirus (HPV) types, the so-called “high-risk” HPVs, the most prevalent being HPV16 and HPV18. Two prophylactic vaccines containing combinations of the major capsid protein (L1) of HPV16 and HPV18 have been shown to efficiently prevent infection by inducing capsid-specific neutralizing antibodies. Since the year 2006 these vaccines have been implemented in many countries in the hope that the incidence of cervical cancer will be drastically reduced in coming decades. Nevertheless, the real efficacy of the present HPV vaccines in preventing cervical cancer is not known. This review summarizes the clinical studies that led to assess the prophylactic power of these vaccines and discusses some open questions and controversy on cervical cancer prevention in relation with the HPV vaccine.