OBJECTIVE To investigate the dynamic correlation between pre-S1 antigen, pre-S2 antigen and HBV DNA in the serum of chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients undergoing nucleoside analogue therapy. METHODS 12 CHB patients with transient virological response after lamivudine treatment, and 20 patients treated with adefovir for 5 years were recruited in this study. Serum samples were collected at four time points when HBV DNA fluctuated sharply during lamivudine treatment, and at 0, 8, 12, 28, 52, 104, 156, 208, 260 weeks following adefovir treatment. HBV DNA was quantified by real-time PCR, pre-S1 and pre-S2 antigens were detected by ELISA. RESULTS The titers of pre-S1 and pre-S2 antigens were not correlated with the HBV DNA level in the serum of lamivudine treated patients. Only in one case of the adfovir treated patients, the decrease of pre-S1 and pre-S2 antigens was in parallel with the decrease of HBV DNA. Linear regression analysis indicated that neither pre-S1 antigen nor pre-S2 antigen was correlated with HBV DNA in the serum of lamivudine or adfovir treated patients (P more than 0.05). CONCLUSION Our results indicate that the titers of pre-S1 and pre-S2 antigens are not correlated with the serum HBV DNA in CHB patients undergoing nucleoside analogue therapy. Neither pre-S1 nor pre-S2 is a good predictor for the outcome of nucleoside analogue treatment.