One hundred forty-two precore/core sequences were obtained from Gambian chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) carriers and the predominant variants defined. The two point mutations, from A to T and G to A at nt positions 1762 and 1764 in the basic core promoter region, were found in only 7/99 (7%) of the samples where this region was sequenced. These mutations were found in both HBeAg-positive and -negative patients. The precore stop-codon mutation at nt position 1896 was found in 14/51 (27%) of HBeAg-negative samples, which is a lower prevalence rate in comparison with other parts of the world with high carrier rates. In HBeAg-positive patients the core amino acid sequences were conserved, but after seroconversion to anti-HBe significantly more changes were apparent. Several of the amino acid substitutions found have been described previously been in wild-type viruses of other genotypes. J. Med. Virol. 65:664–670, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.