GB virus C/hepatitis G virus (GBV-C) replication in vitro is inefficient and inconsistent. In this study, clinical isolates of GBV-C were evaluated using peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) based culture methods. Isolates varied consistently in their ability to persistently replicate, and yield increased in cells grown without PHA/IL-2 stimulation. The deduced polyprotein sequence of an isolate that replicated well was determined (GenBank AY196904) and compared to 20 full-length GBV-C sequences. Fourteen of the 16 unique amino acid polymorphisms identified were in the coding regions for nonstructural proteins associated with interferon resistance and RNA replication. These data indicate that clinical GBV-C isolates vary in their ability to persist in culture, do not require PHA/IL-2 stimulation, and that sequence variability in key regulatory regions may affect growth in PBMC cultures. Since GBV-C appears to inhibit HIV replication in a coinfection model, these studies should facilitate determination of the mechanism of this interaction.