The aim of this study was to examine the possible relationship between the plasma levels of leptin and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and the stage of hepatic fibrosis in a cohort of patients with chronic hepatitis C. Leptin and TNF levels were measured by RIA in 135 patients and in 75 age- and sex-matched controls. Liver disease was evaluated by the stage of fibrosis and the extent of inflammatory infiltrate in the liver biopsy. Leptin levels correlated with BMI values in healthy controls and in patients with chronic hepatitis C (men, r = 0.61, P = 0.0001; women, r = 0.68, P = 0.003). Leptin levels increased as hepatic fibrosis stage progressed both in male and in female patients (P < 0.001); also, TNF levels were higher in patients with an advanced stage of fibrosis (P = 0.006). In these patients, levels of leptin increased according to the progression of the stage of fibrosis; these data suggest that leptin may play a role in the regulation of hepatic fibrosis.