Abstract Aims: In order to examine more carefully the natural history of hepatitis C virus infection and to determine a role for anti-core in the discrimination of indeterminate samples, a solid phase ELISA to detect antibody of the immunoglobulin G class to the hepatitis C virus core antigen was developed using purified protein expressed in Escherichia coli from a major portion of the core antigen coding region. Methods/Results: In a study which examined 651 samples submitted for routine testing by a commercial ELISA (Ortho), only 11 samples showed discrepant results; of these, 10 were Ortho ELISA positive, anti-core negative and one was Ortho ELISA negative anticore positive. Supplemental tests showed that 5 10 of these samples were anti-HCV negative by RIBA and the reciprocal 5 were negative for anti-C22 but positive for anti-C100 and anti-C33. The Ortho ELISA negative, anti-core positive sample was weakly positive for anti-C22. The anti-core ELISA was then used to examine 67 indeterminate samples from the blood bank; 11 11 samples which were HCV-RNA positive were anti-core positive and 7 56 samples which were HCV-RNA negative were anti-core positive. The anti-core titre was then examined in two groups of indeterminate samples; group 1, polymerase chain reaction-positive, anti-core positive and group 2, polymerase chain reaction-negative, anti-core positive. The geometric mean anti-core titres in these groups were 1×10 −3.6 and 1×10 −2.3, respectively. Thus in this group of indeterminate samples, all samples (except one) with an anti-core titre ≥ 1 200 were polymerase chain reaction-positive, confirming a close correlation between anti-core levels and hepatitis C viraemia. Anti-core was detected with equal efficiency in patients infected with genotypes which differed to that used to express the recombinant core antigen.