A clinical evaluation of an automated quantitative PCR assay, the COBAS AMPLICOR HCV MONITOR test, version 2.0 (v2.0), was carried out to assess the performance of this test in comparison with that of the previous, manual version, the AMPLICOR HCV MONITOR test, and with that of nested PCR. Serial dilutions of serum samples infected with genotype 1b, 2a, or 3, as well as synthetic RNA transcripts and serum samples derived from 87 patients with chronic hepatitis C and infected with genotype 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, or 5, were analyzed to determine the ability of the system to efficiently quantify various hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotypes. These experiments showed that the COBAS AMPLICOR HCV MONITOR test, v2.0, has mean intra-assay, interassay, and interoperator coefficients of variation that range from 22 to 34.5% and a 3-logarithm dynamic range, which spans from 10(3) to 10(6) copies/ml. Compared to the previous, manual version of the test, the COBAS AMPLICOR HCV MONITOR test, v2.0, showed an improved efficacy for all genotypes, especially genotypes 2, 3, and 4, whose estimated concentrations were on average 1 logarithm higher. When used to monitor patients under treatment, however, both versions showed the same patterns of viremia, indicating that the COBAS AMPLICOR HCV MONITOR test, v2.0, and the AMPLICOR HCV MONITOR test were equally effective at detecting relative viremia changes in serial samples. As expected, the automated test was less sensitive than nested PCR; among specimens from a cohort of patients treated with interferon, nested PCR identified three more viremic specimens, which probably contained very low concentrations of HCV RNA.