Blood, donated by asymptomatic donors, may contain and transmit parvovirus B19. To investigate the dynamics of parvovirus viraemia in asymptomatic blood donors, we studied the amounts of parvovirus DNA in pools of donor plasma, the prevalence of parvovirus antibodies among blood donors in relation to age, and the seasonal and year-to-year variation of the incidence of parvovirus infection in The Netherlands. The incidence of parvovirus infection follows a seasonal cycle and a cycle of several years. Among Dutch blood donors the incidence was estimated to be 0.56% per year. Forty seven out of 100 pools of 5000 plasma donations tested positive for parvovirus DNA. We inferred that the course of viraemia in asymptomatic donors shows a short peak (> 10(9) copies parvovirus DNA/ml), followed by viraemia below 10(6) copies/ml for about 2 weeks.