The National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference on the management of hepatitis C, which took place in March 1997 and was published in September 1997, established guidelines for the diagnosis and management of chronic hepatitis C. The recommended treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is interferon alpha (or equivalent) 3 MIU three times per week for 12 months, in patients showing response to therapy after 3 months. Patients with the greatest risk for progression to cirrhosis (i.e. persistently elevated alanine aminotransferase levels, detectable serum HCV-RNA and liver biopsy showing portal or bridging fibrosis and at least moderate inflammation and necrosis) are recommended as candidates for therapy. The indication for therapy is less obvious in patients with milder histological changes, compensated cirrhosis and age less than 18 years or older than 60 years. Treatment is not indicated for patients with persistently normal aminotransferases or decompensated cirrhosis. This review outlines the background studies that led to the recommendations of the National Institutes of Health for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C and reviews newer evolving treatment strategies over the past year. In particular, the results of studies exploring treatment options for relapsers and non-responders to prior interferon therapy and the reported results to date on the safety and efficacy of combination therapy with interferon plus ribavirin are highlighted. Although aggressive suppression of HCV-RNA with induction therapy (daily and/or higher doses) or long-acting pegylated interferon preparations may improve the current results of therapy, few data are yet available. Finally, the treatment of chronic hepatitis C with protease inhibitors holds promise but has yet to reach the stage of clinical trials.