The relationship between the histological diagnosis and serological and tissue markers of HBV replication in 41 Greek and 29 British patients with chronic HBV infection were studied. All the nine Greek and 13 British patients who were HBeAg positive had HBV-DNA in serum and HBcAg expression in the hepatocytes. The majority (73%) of these patients had active liver disease. Forty seven per cent of the Greek and 19% of the British patients who were anti-HBe positive continued to display HBcAg in the liver with or without HBV-DNA detected in serum. All but three of these patients had persistently active liver disease. Continuing inflammatory activity in the liver, however, was also found in 31% of anti-HBe positive patients who had no evidence of HBV replication. In these patients, other factors such as delta agent, NANB viruses, alcohol abuse or an autoimmune reaction initiated by HBV may be contributory.