We have investigated the ability of different subgenomic fragments to reproduce the phylogenetic relationships observed between six complete genome sequences of GBV-C/hepatitis G virus (HGV). While similar relationships were observed following analysis of part of the 5' non-coding region (5'NCR), for the coding region they were not accurately reproduced for some large fragments or for the majority of fragments of 300 or 600 nucleotides. Analysis of 5'NCR sequences from a large number of isolates, including newly obtained sequences from Pakistan, Zaire and Scotland, produced separate groupings of Asian, African and European/North American variants. These groupings are associated with specific polymorphisms in the 5'NCR, many of which were covariant and consistent with a proposed secondary structure for this region. The relatively low level of amino acid sequence variation observed between these geographically and phylogenetically defined groups of variants suggests that they are unlikely to display significant biological differences.