A 210-bp DNA segment specific to the human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) genome was amplified by nested polymerase chain reaction from 10 of 14 archived oral biopsy samples of HIV-positive patients in London who had no evidence of oral Kaposi's sarcoma (KS). Various oral sites were represented. Oral tissues from 20 general dental patients not known to be HIV-infected were negative. When DNA sequences of these products were compared with sequences derived from 5 oral KS tissues of AIDS patients in London and 10 skin biopsies of Italian patients with Mediterranean KS (total number of positive tissues = 25), 11 were found to be unique. DNA and predicted peptide motifs of these sequences were also different from those in 28 of 36 HHV-8-positive lesions previously reported from American and African patients. HHV-8 is tropic for the oral mucosa of HIV-infected persons, and HHV-8 variants, though diverse, may be geographically restricted.