Thanks for your reply Ben. It makes no sense to me either.
What sized hard drive is this? Maxtor 160GB ATA hard drive, 2 weeks old and was working just fine.
Did you have any weird partition software running, or had done something with partition magic a long time ago? No and No.
When was the last time you ran a virus scanner? (possible boot sector virus) I run my virus scanner every 2 days. No virus of any kind detected, ever.
In your System event log, are there any related errors? No
Is logical disk manager started? Not sure what this is. I will have to investigate further. Edit: yes it was started
What does diskmap.exe show? (support tools, or from the setup mps reports) Same as above.
What do you see in diskpart "detail disk" "list partition"? Same as above.
Were these volumes BASIC or DYNAMIC? Same as above.
Sector Inspector is your friend. (note that i will not help you use this, and your kungfu must be strong. It helps to have a known good machine to compare)
I have had no experience with logical disk manager, diskmap.exe or sector inspector. I will try them out and let you know how I make out.