We examined the frequency and significance of mutations in the core promoter and precore region in 103 Japanese patients with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. HBV DNAs from the patients' sera were amplified by polymerase chain reaction and were directly sequenced. A double mutation (T1762 A1764) in the core promoter was frequently observed in the patients regardless of HBeAg status except for asymptomatic carriers with HBeAg. Furthermore, a mutation at nucleotide 1753 from T to C or G was frequently found in anti-HBe positive patients and was often accompanied by the double mutation. The A1896 mutation was found in only about one fourth of the patients with anti-HBe. These data suggest that the patients with chronic liver diseases frequently had a double mutation regardless of HBeAg status and a mutation at nucleotide 1753 might be associated with HBeAg-negative chronic hepatitis B virus infection.