Similar to Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in humans, HCVcc infection can also result in persistent and chronic infection. The core protein is a variable protein and exists in several sizes. Some sizes of core proteins have been reported to be related to chronic HCV infection. To study the possible role of the core protein in persistent HCV infection, a persistent HCVcc infection was established, and the expression of the core protein was analysed over the course of the infection. The results show that there are three sizes of core proteins (p24, p21 and p19) expressed during the establishment of persistent HCVcc infection. Of these, the p21 core protein is the mature form of the HCV core protein. The p24 core protein is the phosphorylated form of p21. The p19 core protein appears to be a functional by-product generated during the course of infection. These three core proteins are all localized in the cytoplasm and can be encapsidated into the HCV virion. The appearance of the p19 and p24 core proteins might be related to acute HCVcc infection and chronic infection respectively and may play an important role in the pathology of a HCV infection.