Protease inhibitors (PIs) have proven to be effective adjuncts to interferon/ribavirin treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. Little clinical or in vitro data exists, however, on their effectiveness for nontype 1 genotypes that predominate in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and most of Asia. NS3 protease and NS4A genes from genotypes 1-6 were inserted into the JFH clone to generate replication-competent intergenotype chimeras. Susceptibility to PIs was determined by replication and infectivity assays. To study resistance development, chimeras were cultured in subinhibitory concentrations of PIs and mutations phenotypically characterized. Marked differences in susceptibility of different genotypes to danoprevir (ITMN-191) and telaprevir (VX-950) were observed. Genotypes 1, 4, and 6 showed median inhibitory concentration (IC(50) ) values of 2-3 nM, >100-fold lower than genotypes 2/3/5 (250-750 nM). Telaprevir susceptibilities varied over a 4-fold range, with genotypes 1 and 2 being most susceptible and genotypes 4 and 5 most resistant. Culture of genotypes 1-6 in PIs induced numerous mutations in the NS3 protease domain, highly variable between genotypes. Introduction of danoprevir and BILN 2061-induced mutations into the original clones by site-directed mutagenesis (n = 29) all conferred resistant phenotypes, with particularly large increases (1-2 log greater IC(50) values) in the initially susceptible genotypes 1/4/6. Most introduced mutations and showed little or no effect on replicative fitness. Conclusion: Major differences were found between genotypes in their susceptibility and resistance development to PIs. However, equal sensitivities of genotypes 1, 4, and 6 to danoprevir and a broader efficacy range of telaprevir between genotypes than initially conceptualized provide strong evidence that PIs might be effectively used beyond their genotype 1 target group.