The prevalence of viral hepatitis in Norwegian merchant seamen in overseas trade was studied in 523 volunteers during compulsory health control before embarkation from the port of Oslo. The prevalence of hepatitis B markers was 9.4%, which is significantly higher than in the general Norwegian population. The prevalence increased with the number of years of occupation. It was associated with frequent casual sexual contacts in foreign countries, but not significantly increased in participants who had been exposed to tattooing or different types of medical treatment under poor hygienic conditions in foreign areas. The prevalence of antibodies against hepatitis A (HAV) was 36% in seamen born in 1945 or earlier and 5% in younger individuals, an age-dependent pattern which is essentially similar in the general Norwegian population. However, the prevalence of hepatitis A antibodies seemed to increase with years in foreign trade. The incidence of viral hepatitis infections in the occupation was noticeably high, suggesting that vaccination of seamen in certain areas of trade should be considered.