Hepatitis B viremia and emergence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) YMDD variants with reduced susceptibility to lamivudine were analyzed in patient sera from a phase II study of extended lamivudine therapy. Within 12 weeks, all patients exhibited a marked virologic response to lamivudine: >99% reduction (median 5 log decrease) in serum HBV DNA levels. Virus remained at >104 genomes/mL in 11 patients and decreased to <104 genomes/mL in the remaining 12 patients. In 10 patients, detectable YMDD variants emerged during the course of treatment. Six patients, including 3 with YMDD variants, experienced hepatitis B e antigen seroconversion while on lamivudine therapy or soon after its discontinuation. No patients with HBV DNA levels >104 genomes/mL seroconverted. Thus, patients who respond to lamivudine therapy with dramatic reductions in viral DNA level (to <104 genomes/mL) appear more likely to seroconvert than patients who do not achieve this level of HBV clearance.