Several outbreaks of hepatitis A occurred in Norway in 1995–8. Molecular epidemiology was used to follow the spread of hepatitis A virus in the population. Distinct strains of hepatitis A virus (HAV) were detected by reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction (RT–PCR) and subsequent sequencing in serum from patients in different communities at risk of infection. Two HAV strains were detected in an outbreak among 26 men having sexual contact with other men. One of these strains was also detected in a geographically limited family outbreak. The family outbreak was first believed to be acquired abroad. The sequence information linked the two outbreaks, and epidemiological and serological analyses revealed the transmission route. This study demonstrates the importance of molecular epidemiology in outbreak investigation, surveillance and monitoring of hepatitis A in the population.