Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is associated with the development of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. We recently found that bovine lactoferrin, a milk protein belonging to the iron transporter family, effectively prevented HCV infection in cultured human hepatocytes (PH5CH8). We tested the hypothesis that lactoferrin inhibits HCV viremia in patients with chronic hepatitis C. Eleven patients with chronic hepatitis C received an 8-week course of bovine lactoferrin (1.8 or 3.6 g/day). At the end of lactoferrin treatment, a decrease in serum alanine transaminase and HCV RNA concentrations was apparent in 3 (75%) of 4 patients with low pretreatment serum concentrations of HCV RNA. However, 7 patients with high pretreatment concentrations showed no significant changes in these indices. This pilot study suggests that lactoferrin is one potential candidate as an anti-HCV reagent that may be effective for the treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis.