Summary. The clinical significance of hepatitis B virus (HBV) genotypes is still under debate. The aims of this study were to assess the distribution of HBV genotypes in France and to identify the associations between HBV genotypes and patient demographics, severity of liver disease and HBeAg status in patients referred to tertiary care centres. This was a French, multicentre, retrospective study on 262 patients with chronic HBV infection. HBV genotypes were determined using INNO-LiPA. Liver fibrosis damage was evaluated by histological analysis of biopsy samples. Patients were mainly male (74%), of Caucasian (65%), Asian (17%) or African (18%) ethnicity and 36% were HBeAg positive. All A–G genotypes were found, the most frequent being genotypes D (27%) and A (24%), followed by E (13%) and C (12%), and B (7%). Mixed genotypes were detected in 16% of the cases. Genotype A was associated with sexual contact (P < 0.001) and genotype D with transfusion (P < 0.001) and HBe antibody positivity (P = 0.03).The distribution of HBV genotypes differed with regard to the ethnicity, and may reflect migration patterns. Genotypes A and D were the most frequent in France. Genotype A was associated with HBeAg positivity and genotype D with HBe antibody positivity. In our European patients, we find no clear association between a given HBV genotype and liver disease severity.