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Hepatitis B virus is classified as the type species of the Orthohepadnavirus, which contains eight other species.

and in a New World woolly monkeys suggesting an ancient origin for this virus in primates.

The virus is divided into four major serotypes (adr, adw, ayr, ayw) based on antigenic epitopes present on its envelope proteins.

The oldest evidence of hepatitis B infection dates to Bronze Age.The viral DNA is found in the nucleus soon after infection of the cell.The partially double-stranded DNA is rendered fully double-stranded by completion of the ( ) sense strand by cellular DNA polymerases (viral DNA polymerase is used for a later stage) and removal of the viral polymerase protein (P) from the (-) sense strand and a short sequence of RNA from the ( ) sense strand.The branching at this time lead to the emergence of the Orthohepadna genotypes A–H.Human strains have a most recent common ancestor dating back to 7,000 (95% interval: 5,287–9,270) to 10,000 (95% interval: 6,305–16,681) years ago.

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