Both Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) type A and type B, and variants of type A, were identified simultaneously by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of a DNA region coding for a 13 amino acid repeat in the Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen (EBNA) 6. Whereas this region varies extensively in type A isolates, no variation was seen in type B isolates. When a repetitive region in the LMP1-coding region was amplified by PCR, it was possible to distinguish individual variants of type B isolates from each other. Forty-two saliva samples from HIV-1-carrying individuals were examined for the presence of type A and type B virus. Both types and multiple variants of each type were found with a much higher frequency than in the saliva samples from healthy individuals. Type A EBV alone was detected in mouthwash samples from 6 infectious mononucleosis (IM) patients. Both type A and B were detected in the peripheral blood B-lymphocytes (PBL) from 1 healthy individual. The same type A variant was demonstrated both in PBL and in the mouthwash sample from another healthy individual. In this study it was shown that a combination of the EBNA 6- and LMP 1-specific PCRs followed by Southern hybridisation can be used to identify both type A and type B virus, as well as to distinguish between multiple variants of the same strain, in saliva and B-cells from both healthy and immunosuppressed individuals.