Nucleocapsid-pol fusion proteins have been detected by serological screening hepatocellular carcinoma tissues that contain hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA. The existence of these fusion proteins suggests that HBV may synthesize its reverse transcriptase in a fashion analogous to the way that retroviruses synthesize and process a precursor. The accumulation of HBV reverse transcriptase intermediates in tumorous tissues and not in other tissues may be related to the absence of viral core particles and possibly contributes to tumor development.