Summary. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 45 treatment naïve, HIV-negative, chronically hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected patients were analyzed for the presence of HCV RNA. Viral RNA was detected in 73% of the studied patients. Single-strand conformation polymorphism assays and sequence analysis of the HCV 5′untranslated regions amplified from RNA recovered from both Plasma and PBMCs suggested virus compartmentalization in 57.6% of patients studied. In summary, our study presents evidence that HCV RNA can be found in PBMCs of treatment naïve chronically infected patients that are not immunocompromised or co-infected with the human immunodeficiency virus.