A 1700 base cDNA fragment coding for the putative structural gene(s) of hepatitis E virus (HEV) was inserted into the pATH 10 expression vector. The fusion protein (C2) expressed by this plasmid was found to contain epitopes recognized by anti-HEV antibodies. C2 protein was used in a Western blot format to examine its usefulness in detecting anti-HEV antibodies in well documented human cases of HEV and non-human primates infected with HEV. Both IgM and IgG anti-HEV could be detected in our Western blot assay. This Western blot assay was found not to detect antibodies from acute-phase sera from patients with either HAV or HBV. The C2 protein contains broadly cross-reactive epitopes, and the Western blot assay was able to detect anti-HEV antibodies in patient sera from Asia, Africa, and North America. The optimum serum dilution for the detection of both IgM and IgG was 1:25.