The prevalence of specific HSV-2 antibodies was studied in Tanzanian and Norwegian sexually transmitted disease (STD) patients (1095) and non-STD patients (488). Correlates to demographic and behavioural factors were evaluated. Seropositivity was determined by the non-commercial peptide-55 enzyme-linked immunoassay. The prevalence of HSV-2 antibodies was 70% in Tanzanian and 17% in Norwegian STD patients, 35% in Tanzanian blood donors and pregnant women, and 4, 7 and 14% in Norwegian medical students, blood donors and pregnant women respectively. A higher HSV-2 prevalence was associated with female sex, increasing age, previous STDs, history of genital HSV infection, coitarchal age (age at first intercourse) <15 years and HIV seropositivity. Compared to previous data, the prevalence of HSV-2 antibodies in Tanzanian STD patients has increased remarkably. In Norwegian STD patients our results are consistent with, or lower than, the prevalence previously reported in Western Europe. Demographic rather than behavioural factors were associated with higher prevalence of HSV-2 antibodies in STD patients.