John Paul I died after only 33 days as pope, triggering another conclave.
The second conclave of 1978 started on 14 October, ten days after the funeral.
It was split between two strong candidates for the papacy: Giuseppe Cardinal Siri, the conservative Archbishop of Genoa, and the liberal Archbishop of Florence, Giovanni Cardinal Benelli, a close friend of John Paul I.
Supporters of Benelli were confident that he would be elected, and in early ballots, Benelli came within nine votes of success.
However, both men faced sufficient opposition for neither to be likely to prevail.
Giovanni Colombo, the Archbishop of Milan was considered as a compromise candidate among the Italian cardinal-electors, but when he started to receive votes, he announced that, if elected, he would decline to accept the papacy.
Wojtyła won on the eighth ballot on the third day 16 October, and took the name Pope Paul II in honour of the late Albino Luciani, who was Pope Paul I.