A synthetic gene encoding an artificial polypeptide composed of antigenic epitopes of the hepatitis E virus (HEV) proteins was constructed from short oligodeoxyribonucleotides by using PCR. The polypeptide comprises a mosaic of three antigenically active dominant regions from the protein encoded by open reading frame 2 (ORF2), one antigenically active region from the protein encoded by ORF3 of the Burmese HEV strain, and one antigenically active region from the protein encoded by ORF3 of the Mexican HEV strain. The mosaic protein was expressed in Escherichia coli as a chimera with glutathione S-transferase or beta-galactosidase. Guinea pig sera containing antibodies to the corresponding HEV synthetic peptides were used to demonstrate by Western immunoblot analysis and enzyme immunoassay the presence and accessibility of all HEV-specific antigenic epitopes introduced into the mosaic protein. Both the glutathione S-transferase and beta-galactosidase hybrid proteins were analyzed by using a panel of human anti-HEV-positive and -negative sera. The data obtained strongly indicate a diagnostic potential for the mosaic protein.