Hepatitis E is endemic in many countries throughout the developing world, in particular on the continents of Africa and Asia. The disease generally affects young adults and has a very high mortality rate, up to 20%, in pregnant women. This invention relates to the identification of a neutralization site of hepatitis E virus (HEV) and neutralizing antibodies that react with it. The neutralization site is located on a polypeptide from the ORF2 gene (capsid gene) of HEV. This neutralization site was identified using a panel of chimpanzee monoclonal antibodies that are virtually identical to human antibodies. Since this neutralization site is conserved among genetically divergent strains of HEV, the neutralizing monoclonal antibodies may be useful in the diagnosis, treatment and/or prevention of hepatitis E. Furthermore, immunogens that encompass this neutralization site may be used in vaccination to effectively prevent, and/or reduce the incidence of HEV infection. Polypeptides containing this neutralization site may be useful in evaluating vaccine candidates for the production of neutralizing antibodies to HEV.