Development of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is closely associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection. However, NPC occurs with a marked geographic and racial distribution, whereas EBV infection is ubiquitous in the world. This leads to a question whether certain subtypes of EBV have a greater potential to induce cell transformation. Latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) is an EBV-encoded oncogenic protein and its 30-bp deleted variant (del-LMP1) has been reported to be predominant in biopsies of NPC. We have assessed the polymorphism of LMP1 in 47 biopsies of NPC, 107 cases of throat washings (TWs) from NPC patients, and 106 cases of TWs from non-NPC patients in Guangzhou, an endemic area of NPC in southern China, as well as 103 cases of TWs from healthy donors in Haerbin, a non-endemic area of NPC in northern China. Our results found a similar extent of the LMP1 polymorphism between NPC patients and non-NPC patients in Guangzhou, with the del-LMP1 being predominant in both Guangzhou and Haerbin. Sequence analyses showed identical substitutions in other coding regions of the del-LMP1 isolated from Guangzhou and Haerbin. These results indicate that del-LMP1 represents a geographic or race-associated polymorphism rather than an NPC disease phenotype-associated polymorphism.