The association of precore stop codon mutation (A1896), dinucleotide mutation (T1762/A1764) in the basic core promoter of hepatitis B virus (HBV) genome, and genotype of HBV with fulminant or subfulminant hepatitis remains controversial. We studied HBV genotypes as well as mutations in the precore and basic core promoter regions in 18 hepatitis B carriers with fulminant or subfulminant hepatitis. Genotyping of HBV was performed by polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism. The presence of A1896 in the precore gene and T1762/A1764 in the basic core promoter gene was determined by the polymerase chain reaction and by direct sequencing. Eighteen age- and sex-matched patients with chronic active hepatitis B served as controls. The HBV was of genotype B in 14, genotype C in 3, and unclassified in 1. Precore A1896 mutation occurred in 12 (67%) of the 18 patients. In contrast, the prevalence of basic core promoter mutation was only 17%. Nevertheless, the distribution of HBV genotype and the prevalence of precore A1896 mutation in the fulminant and subfulminant hepatitis patients were similar to those in 18 control patients. In conclusion, the genomic variability of HBV does not seem to contribute to the fulminant and subfulminant exacerbation of chronic hepatitis B in Taiwanese HBV carriers. J. Med. Virol. 72:545–550, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.