A total of 431 consecutive patients from the Midi Pyrenees area with acute hepatitis with unknown etiology in 2001–2002 were tested for the presence of immunoglobulin G-class (IgG) anti-hepatitis E virus (HEV) antibodies. Forty-six (10.7%) had anti-HEV IgG, and the results were questionable for a further 17 (3.9%). Real time PCR based on TaqMan detection was used to identify HEV genome fragments in the serum of patients with positive or questionable anti-HEV serology. HEV RNA was found in 25.4% of cases. All amplification products were sequenced and analyzed. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that all the strains were genotype 3. In conclusion, virological and epidemiological data indicate that genotype 3 viruses are circulating in the south west part of France (Midi-Pyrenees) in patients with acute hepatitis and who have not visited recently areas in which HEV is endemic. J. Med. Virol. 74:419–424, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.