Genotype 5 (G5) was initially discovered and is still mainly diagnosed in South Africa. No cases of G5 have ever been reported from the Middle East countries. The aim of the study was to determine the hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype distribution in Syria and the prevalence of G5 in this country. Genotyping of HCV was performed in 636 consecutive HCV patients referred to eight medical centres in Syria over a 3-year period. Genotype 4 was the most frequent genotype (375 patients, 59%) followed by genotype 1 (181 patients, 28·5%) and G5 (64 patients, 10%). The majority of G5 patients (56 cases, 87%) live in the north of Syria, including 21 cases (33%) from Azaz, a small city close to Turkey. No obvious epidemiological reason for such high prevalence of G5 was found.