The genotypes of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) were investigated in North African nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) biopsies, nasopharyngeal chronic inflammation (NCI) biopsies, and saliva of healthy individuals from Algeria and Tunisia where there is an intermediate incidence of NPC. The prevalence of A-type virus in NPC, NCI biopsies and saliva of healthy individuals was found in these regions by means of a PCR assay. Restriction enzyme polymorphism analysis by Southern blotting revealed that all North African EBV variants have a conserved restriction site on BamHI W'-I' and XhoI LMP gene. No additional BamHI enzyme site on the BamHI-F fragment was observed; however, the presence of an extra BamHI site on the BamHI-H fragment giving 2 HI and H2 fragment-like EBV M-ABA strains was found. All EBV strains present in NPC or NCI biopsies at all ages were homogeneous in these polymorphisms and no correlation was observed between the EBV genotypes from NPC patients and clinical stages of the cancer. These characteristics revealed a significant difference between the EBV variants common in Chinese NPC and those in North African NPC.