Background. Viral hepatitis is an infection of the liver caused by one or more of six known (HAV-HGV) hepatotropic viruses. It is a common problem among health care workers and their patients. Surgeons are at particular risk of both acquiring and transmitting some of these viruses from and to their patients. Unfortunately, specific immunoprophylaxis for viral hepatitis is presently limited to protecting against the spread of hepatitis A and B viral infections, leaving a high degree of vigilance and careful surgical technique as the only means available to prevent the transmission of other viruses relative to the surgeon. The purpose of this paper is to review the various forms of viral hepatitis including the nature of the virus, serologic testing, clinical features, epidemiology (with specific reference to those issues that arise in surgical practice), treatment and prevention.