Pathogenic mechanisms of B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders in chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are unclear. We studied t(14;18) translocation by polymerase chain reaction in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 50 patients with HCV-related liver disease (group A), 7 with mixed cryoglobulinemia syndrome (group B), 55 with HCV-negative liver disease (group C), and 30 with HCV-negative chronic rheumatic disorders or chronic infection by nonhepatotropic agents (group D). T(14;18) was significantly more frequent in group A (13/50 patients = 26 %) and group B (5/7 = 71.4%) patients than in group C (1/55 = 3.6%) and group D (1/30 = 3.3%) ones. Immunoblot analysis showed bcl-2 over-expression in all t(14;18)-positive samples. In group A, 10/13 (77%) patients with t(14;18) and 13/37 (35%) without t(14;18) had serum cryoglobulins in the absence of mixed cryoglobulinemia symptoms (P <.05). These data indicate that t(14;18) and bcl-2 over-expression in lymphoid cells are frequent in chronic HCV infection and suggest that this event may contribute to the pathogenesis of HCV-related lymphoproliferative disorders.