A nested polymerase chain reaction assay (nPCR) was used to investigate the potential of human parvovirus B19 DNA to persist in blood or bone marrow samples obtained either from blood donors or cadaveric bone donors or from patients presenting with clinical signs of parvovirus B19 infection. The presence of parvovirus B19 specific antibody in blood was tested by enzyme immunoassay (EIA). B19 virus genome was not detected in any blood sample of 115 blood donors, of whom 92 (80%) had anti-B19 IgG antibody only as an indication of past infection. In contrast; B19 virus DNA was detected in the bone marrow of 4 out of 45 bone donors. Each one of the serum samples available for 3 of these 4 individuals contained anti-B19 IgG antibody. Among 84 patients with clinical manifestations of parvovirus B19 infection, 17 (20%) had B19 virus DNA in bone marrow. Eight of the latter patients had anti-B19 IgG antibody in their blood but neither anti-B19 IgG nor B19 virus DNA. These data document the ability of parvovirus B19 DNA to persist in the bone marrow of asymptomatic individuals and patients with parvovirus B19 infection suspected on clinical grounds.