Abstract Human primary hepatocellular carcinoma (PLC/342), carried by nude mice, produces hepatitis B core particles as well as hepatitis B surface antigen particles. Core particles purified from PLC/342 tumors displayed epitopes of hepatitis B core antigen (HBcAg) but not epitopes of hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) on their surface, unlike core particles prepared from Dane particles, derived from plasma of asymptomatic carriers, that expressed epitopes of both HBcAg and HBeAg. Core particles obtained from PLC/342 tumors were applied to the determination of antibody to HBcAg (anti-HBc) by passive hemagglutination. The assay detected anti-HBc not only in individuals with persistent infection with hepatitis B virus and in those who had recovered from transient infection, but also in patients with acute type B hepatitis, indicating that it can detect anti-HBc of either IgG or IgM class. A liberal availability of core particles from tumors carried by nude mice, taken together with an easy applicability of the method, would make the passive hemagglutination for anti-HBc a valuable tool in clinical and epidemiological studies, especially in places where sophisticated methods are not feasible.