The chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) is the only experimental animal susceptible to infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV). The chimpanzee model of HCV infection was instrumental in the initial studies on non-A, non-B hepatitis, including observations on the clinical course of infection, determination of the physical properties of the virus, and eventual cloning of the HCV nucleic acid. This review focuses on more recent aspects of the use of the chimpanzee in HCV research. The chimpanzee model has been critical for the analysis of early events in HCV infection because it represents a population for which samples are available from the time of exposure and all exposed animals are examined. For this reason, the chimpanzee represents a truly nonselected population. In contrast, human cohorts are often selected for disease status or antibody reactivity and typically include individuals that have been infected for decades. The chimpanzee model is essential to an improved understanding of the factors involved in viral clearance, analysis of the immune response to infection, and the development of vaccines. The development of infectious cDNA clones of HCV was dependent on the use of chimpanzees, and they will continue to be needed in the use of reverse genetics to evaluate critical sequences for viral replication. In addition, chimpanzees have been used in conjunction with DNA microarray technology to probe the entire spectrum of changes in liver gene expression during the course of HCV infection. The chimpanzee will continue to provide a critical aspect to the understanding of HCV disease and the development of therapeutic modalities.