Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a leading cause a of chronic liver disease worldwide. The main therapeutic regimen is the combination of interferon alpha (IFN) and the nucleoside analog, Ribavirin. IFN initiates an intracellular antiviral state by the JAK-STAT signaling pathway, including a presumed role for STAT1 and STAT2. We have previously shown that the STAT3 activation occurs during IFN treatment of human hepatoma cells, suggesting that the STAT3-mediated pathway is relevant to IFN-induced antiviral activity. In this study, we investigate the role of activated STAT3 in the induction of anti-HCV activity in human hepatoma cells. We demonstrate that the STAT3 activation is involved in efficient IFN-induced anti-HCV activity. Using an inducible, cytokine-independent, STAT3 activation system, in which the entire coding region of STAT3 is fused with the ligand-binding domain of the estrogen receptor, we demonstrate that: activated STAT3 is tightly regulated in a stably transfected cell line by an estrogen analog, 4-HT; activated STAT3 initiates efficient anti-HCV activity in a HCV subgenomic replicon cell line; and activation of STAT3 is associated with the induction of a potential antiviral gene, 1-8U. In addition, we show that the cytokine IL-6, a potent STAT3 activator, inhibits HCV subgenomic RNA replication through STAT3 activation and ERK pathway. These results strongly suggest that STAT3 activation is capable of initiating intracellular antiviral pathways.