Mericitabine is a nucleoside analog polymerase inhibitor of hepatitis C virus (HCV). Treatment-naïve HCV genotype 1 or 4 patients were randomized to double-blind treatment with oral mericitabine at a dosage of 500 mg twice-daily (BID) for 12 weeks (A), 1,000 mg BID for 8 (B) or 12 weeks (C and D), or placebo BID for 12 weeks (E). All patients received pegylated interferon alpha-2a (Peg-IFNα-2a; 40 kD)/ribavirin (RBV) at standard doses for 24 or 48 weeks during and after mericitabine/placebo therapy. Patients in arms A-C who maintained a virologic response (VR) (HCV RNA <15 IU/mL) from weeks 4 to 22 stopped all treatment at week 24; all other patients (arms A-E) continued Peg-IFNα-2a/RBV to complete 48 weeks. The primary outcome was sustained VR (SVR) (HCV RNA <15 IU/mL after 24 weeks of untreated follow-up; SVR-24). VR rates were higher in arms A-D than in arm E at weeks 4 and 12 overall, in patients with and without cirrhosis and in patients with CC and non-CC IL28B genotypes. However, the overall SVR-24 rate in arms D (50.6%) and E (placebo, 51.2%) was similar and those in the response-guided therapy arms A, B, and C were lower (48.8%, 42.0%, and 32.9%, respectively). No viral breakthrough or mericitabine-resistance mutations (S282T) were observed during mericitabine therapy. Conclusion: Treatment with mericitabine plus Peg-IFNα-2a/RBV for 8 or 12 weeks provided potent suppression of HCV RNA, was well tolerated, and did not select resistant variants, but did not increase SVR rates, compared to placebo. IFN-free and IFN-containing trials of mericitabine of longer treatment duration are ongoing. (HEPATOLOGY 2013;58:524–537)