|| It has been reported that the envelope region located at the 3' portion of the structural protein coding region is one of the most variable regions at both nucleotide and amino acid sequence levels in the hepatitis C virus (HCV) genome. We cloned HCV cDNA fragments of an envelope protein coding region (HCVNK), which were derived from serum of a Japanese patient with hepatocellular carcinoma and were amplified by polymerase chain reaction. After determining the nucleotide sequence, deduced amino acid sequence of the envelope protein region was compared with those of six HCV strains already published (HCJ1, HCVUS, HCJ4, HCVJH, HCVJ and HCVBK). Homology analysis among the strains revealed that the seven strains were classified into two subtypes; a US subtype (HCJ1 and HCVUS) and a Japanese subtype (HCJ4, HCVJH, HCVJ, HCVBK and HCVNK), since percentage homologies between two subtypes (70.3-77.3%) were significantly lower than those within each subtype (83.9-93.5%). Detailed analysis of the amino acid sequences also indicates that the region at aa246-aa258, tentatively named intersubtype variable region-1, may distinguish the US subtype from the Japanese subtype.