The aim of this study was to evaluate the inhibitory effect of the nucleotide analogue adefovir on woodchuck hepatitis B virus (WHV) replication and, in particular, to determine whether the pool of covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) could be reduced by adefovir treatment in primary cultures of woodchuck hepatocytes isolated from a chronic carrier. Strong reduction of WHV-DNA synthesis (90%) and secretion (up to 98%) was observed with all 3 doses of adefovir used (1, 10, and 100 μmol/L), whereas in the absence of the drug, high amounts of viral particles were continuously secreted in the culture medium until the end of the study (27 days). Secretion of envelope proteins and viral RNA levels remained constant both in the adefovir-treated and -untreated cultures for the entire course of the study. Intracellular core protein levels declined by approximately 50% in all the cultures, independent of adefovir treatment. There was no indication of cccDNA loss in the adefovir-treated hepatocyte cultures even when cell turnover was induced for 14 days by the addition of epidermal growth factor (EGF) to the culture medium. Our data show that adefovir has a very strong inhibitory effect on WHV-DNA synthesis in chronically infected primary hepatocyte cultures and indicate that cccDNA is a very stable molecule that appears to be efficiently transmitted to the dividing hepatocytes.