summary In many countries, screening of hepatitis B virus (HBV) in blood donors is limited to HBsAg testing. However, if anti-HBc testing and sensitive HBV nucleic acid amplification testing (NAT) for routine screening are not prescribed, HBV viraemia might remain unrecognized. A clinically inconspicuous HBsAg-negative 35-year-old female blood donor was detected with anti-HBc antibodies following the introduction of anti-HBc screening of donors. Based on her history, she had seroconverted to anti-HBs positive (titre >7000 IU/L) after vaccination. Blood donations were routinely tested HBV-DNA negative by minipool NAT. The individual donor samples were reinvestigated by an ultrasensitive NAT with a lower detection limit of 3·8 IU/mL. Intermittent HBV viraemia was detected over a 7-year period from this donor, with a concentration ranging from 8 to 260 IU/mL. In the subsequent donor-directed lookback study, no post-transfusion hepatitis was detected. Low-level HBV viraemia in simultaneous anti-HBc- and anti-HBs-positive blood donors could only be identified with enhanced sensitivity individual polymerase chain reaction assays and is not detectable by pool HBV NAT.