The nucleoside analog 2′,3′-dideoxyinosine, currently being used to treat patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, has been shown to inhibit viral replication in certain cell culture systems of hepatitis B virus and the duck model of chronic hepatitis B infection. We studied the effect of dideoxyinosine on viral replication in patients with chronic hepatitis B. In the initial dose-finding phase, patients received sequential 2-wk courses of dideoxyinosine in escalating doses of 3,6 and 9 mg/kg/day. In the second, long-term treatment phase, patients received dideoxyinosine at a dose of 9 mg/kg/day for 12 wk. Dideoxyinosine was given orally in three divided doses. The effects of dideoxyinosine on hepatitis B were assessed by serial measurements of ALT, hepatitis B virus DNA and DNA polymerase activity in serum. Six patients completed the dose-finding phase, and five patients continued into the long-term treatment phase. No significant differences were seen in serum aminotransferases, hepatitis B virus DNA levels or DNA polymerase activity at any time during treatment when compared with pretreatment levels. All patients remained positive for HBeAg during treatment and during 6 mo of follow-up. Thus at the doses tested, dideoxyinosine had no appreciable effect on viral replication in patients with chronic hepatitis B. (HEPATOLOGY 1992;16:861–864.)