The aim of this study was to evaluate awareness, knowledge, and risk perception about human papillomavirus (HPV), cervical cancer, and HPV vaccines among undergraduate students in Turkey. The convenience sample of this descriptive cross-sectional study consisted of 605 undergraduate students in Istanbul University during a semester. Demographic characteristics of students, their reproductive health and lifestyle behaviors, and knowledge of HPV and HPV vaccine were questioned using self-administered forms. The overall proportion of students who had heard about HPV infection was 48.8 %, while the proportion of students who had heard of the HPV vaccine was 44.5 %. Forty eight percent of females and 60 % of males reported never having heard of the HPV. Only 45.7 % of females had knowledge about HPV as a cause of genital warts, and 58.1 % correctly indicated that HPV caused cervical cancer. The majority of students in both genders (> 80 %) knew that the infection is primarily transmitted through sexual intercourse. Females were more concerned than males about having cervical/penile cancer associated with HPV in the future. Only 46.4 % of females and 39 % of males reported having heard of the HPV vaccine. The majority of the female and male students did not know who should get the HPV vaccine and when to get vaccinated. Among males, 25.8 % reported that they would consider getting vaccinated (if available) and 38.4 % intended to vaccinate their children. Turkish undergraduate students had a low to moderate level of knowledge regarding HPV infection and HPV vaccine. In order to increase awareness about HPV and develop positive behaviors, young people should be provided with accurate information through educational activities in the community and health care services.