Most haemophiliacs treated with non-virally-inactivated clotting factor concentrates have been infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). We have studied the natural history of chronic HCV infection by following all 138 HCV-positive patients from our centre for periods of up to 28 years. As well as the clinical and biochemical characteristics, we studied 116 liver samples from 63 patients obtained at elective biopsy (n=103) or autopsy (n=13). 36 (26%) of the patients were HIV positive, and three were chronic carriers of hepatitis B. Evidence of previous exposure to hepatitis A and B was found in 37.2% and 48.1% respectively. Raised transaminase levels were found in 82.6% of patients. 11 of 15 patients with normal transaminases tested by PCR for HCV RNA were positive, indicating that most patients, even in this group, have chronic hepatitis C infection. Cirrhosis was diagnosed by liver histology in 19 patients, and nine patients developed liver failure. The incidence of cirrhosis rose rapidly 15 years after HCV infection to 15.6 per 1000 person-years. Multivariate analysis showed that HIV status, length of time since HCV infection and age at HCV infection were independently associated with both the development of cirrhosis and liver failure. Two patients developed hepatocellular carcinoma; one of these was exposed only to a single batch of FVIII concentrate 11 years earlier. Chronic hepatitis C is increasingly recognized as a major cause for morbidity and mortality in haemophiliacs, especially those who are HIV positive and who were infected at an older age.