The presence of hepatitis E virus-specific antibodies (anti-HEV) was determined in selected Australian groups. Anti-HEV was detected initially using a recombinant antigen-based enzyme immunoassay (EIA). It was found that 1 of 279 (0.4%) blood donors, 14 of 182 (7.7%) Indochinese refugees, 2 of 89 (2.2%) sera submitted for amoebic serology (generally people who had visited developing countries), 1 of 13 (7.7%) patients with non-A, non-B hepatitis, none of 7 (0%) patients with fulminant non-A, non-B hepatitis, and none of 33 (0%) control sera were repeatedly reactive by the HEV EIA. The positive sera were subjected to further testing using a supplemental immunoblot. Preliminary data suggest that while potentially large numbers of people infected with HEV are entering Australia, no compulsive evidence was found in these particular groups for endemic HEV infection in Australia. This is the first seroepidemiological survey of HEV in Australia. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, inc.