To investigate the relationship between viral factors and the development of chronic hepatitis B, the entire hepatitis B virus (HBV) genome of chronic carriers at different disease stages were analyzed. Eighty genotype C HBV carriers including 12 hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) positive asymptomatic carriers (Group A), 49 HBeAg positive patients with chronic liver diseases (Group B) and 19 anti-HBe positive patients with chronic liver diseases (Group C) were studied. HBV nucleic acid from serum samples was sequenced directly and compared with GenBank reference sequences HBV X01587 and M12906. On phylogenetic analysis, 76 cases were genotype C2. Of the 76 genotype C2 cases, the nucleotide and amino acid substitution rates in the precore/core region were significantly higher in Groups B and C than in Group A, also in Group C than in Group B. The nucleotide substitution rates in the full genome and the core promoter region were significantly higher in Group C than in Group A, also in group C than in Group B. The nucleotide and amino acid substitution rates in the X region were significantly higher in Group C than in Group A. The amino acid substitution rate in the pre-S2 region was significantly higher in Group C than in Group B. Deletion mutations were found mainly in Groups B and C. This whole genome analysis of HBV chronic carriers suggested that the nucleotide substitutions and deletions in HBV were closely associated with the pathogenesis of chronic HBV infection. J. Med. Virol. 79: 683–693, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.