Summary. This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluated whether lamivudine given during late pregnancy can reduce hepatitis B virus (HBV) perinatal transmission in highly viraemic mothers. Mothers were randomized to either lamivudine 100 mg or placebo from week 32 of gestation to week 4 postpartum. At birth, infants received recombinant HBV vaccine with or without HBIg and were followed until week 52. One hundred and fifty mothers, with a gestational age of 26–30 weeks and serum HBV DNA >1000 MEq/mL (bDNA assay), were treated. A total of 141 infants received immunoprophylaxis at birth. In lamivudine-treated mothers, 56 infants received vaccine + HBIg (lamivudine + vaccine + HBIg) and 26 infants received vaccine (lamivudine + vaccine). In placebo-treated mothers, 59 infants received vaccine + HBIg (placebo + vaccine + HBIg). At week 52, in the primary analyses where missing data was counted as failures, infants in the lamivudine + vaccine + HBIg group had a significant decrease in incidence of HBsAg seropositivity (10/56, 18%vs 23/59, 39%; P = 0.014) and in detectable HBV DNA (11/56, 20%vs 27/59, 46%; P = 0.003) compared to infants in the placebo + vaccine + HBIg group. Sensitivity analyses to evaluate the impact of missing data at week 52 resulting from a high dropout rate (13% in the lamivudine + vaccine + HBIg group and 31% in the placebo + vaccine + HBIg group) remained consistent with the primary analysis in that lower transmission rates were still observed in the infants of lamivudine-treated mothers, but the differences were not statistically significant. No safety concerns were noted in the lamivudine-treated mothers or their infants. Results of this study suggest that lamivudine reduced HBV transmission from highly viraemic mothers to their infants who received passive/active immunization.