ABSTRACT— To clarify the discrepancy in hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) subtypes present in the serum and liver, as well as among hepatocytes, liver specimens which were resected from 37 HBsAg-positive patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) were examined. We evaluated HBsAg and the subtypic determinants of HBsAg and hepatitis B core antigen (HBcAg) using the peroxidase-antiperoxidase (PAP) staining method. Hepatitis B antigens were more frequently detected in small tumors (HBsAg in 67%, HBcAg in 40%) than in large ones (HBsAg in 36%, HBcAg in 14%). The prevalence of each subtypic determinant in the HBsAg positive non-tumorous vs. tumorous areas was 100% vs. 67% in a, 100% vs. 57% in d, 100% vs. not tested in y, 100% vs. 53% in r and 25% vs. 0% in w (a, d, y, r and w represent subtypic determinants). There was virtually no difference in a set of subtypic determinants between the serum and liver. However, there were some variations in a set of subtypic determinants among the hepatocytes. On the other hand, liver tissue of compound subtype adyr in serum contained both cells with a,d,r and with a,y,r as well as a few cells with a,d,y,r. These findings suggest that HBV genomes in hepatocytes of type B chronic liver disease may differ genetically among cells even in the same liver tissue.