The major aim of the project was the development of virus-like particles (VLP) displaying B- and T-cell epitopes of hepatitis C virus (HCV) proteins. To this end, hepatitis B virus core (HBc) particles were used as a carrier of HCV epitopes. Fragments of HCV genes encoding core (aa 98) and NS3 (aa 155) proteins were fused to the 3' terminus of the truncated HBV core gene. All recombinant plasmids led to relatively high levels of expression of chimeric proteins in E. coli, which resulted in the formation of complete "mature" VLP. Chimeric HBc/HCV VLPs were purified by combination of gel filtration and sucrose gradient centrifugation, and used for immunogenicity studies in mice. All variants of hybrid particles induced high humoral and cellular responses to HBcAg. Immunization with the HBc/HCV core particles led to relatively low antibody and T-cell proliferative responses to HCV core epitopes. The HBc/HCV NS3 particles were able to induce high levels of anti-NS3 antibodies in the absence of proliferative responses to HCV epitopes. Thus, the results of the current study have demonstrated the principal possibility of using VLP on the basis of HBcAg for creation of a new type of HCV-specific immunogen.