Telbivudine, a nucleoside analog inhibitor of the viral polymerase of hepatitis B virus (HBV), has been approved for the treatment of chronic HBV infection, along with the nucleoside inhibitors lamivudine and entecavir, and the nucleotide inhibitors adefovir and tenofovir. The resistance profiles of these agents were investigated via drug treatment of HepG2 cells stably transfected with wild-type or mutant HBV genomes bearing known resistance mutations. Telbivudine was not active against HBV strains bearing lamivudine mutations L180M/M204V/I but remained active against the M204V single mutant in vitro, potentially explaining the difference in resistance profiles between telbivudine and lamivudine. Against HBV genomes with known telbivudine-resistance mutations, M204I and L80I/M204I, telbivudine, lamivudine and entecavir lost 353- to >1000-fold activity whereas adefovir and tenofovir exhibited no more than 3-5-fold change. Conversely, against HBV cell lines expressing adefovir resistance mutations N236T and A181V, or the A194T mutant associated with resistance to tenofovir, telbivudine remained active as shown by respective fold-changes of 0.5 (N236T) and 1.0 (A181V and A194T). These in vitro results indicate that nucleoside and nucleotide drugs have different cross-resistance profiles. The addition of telbivudine to ongoing adefovir therapy could provide effective antiviral therapy to patients who develop adefovir resistance.