Primary biliary cirrhosis, a chronic liver disease, predominately affects middle-aged women. The diagnosis is established by the presence of disease-specific autoantibodies and compatible liver histology showing focal immune-mediated damage to the intrahepatic bile ducts. Patients now are detected prior to the onset of symptoms typical of cholestasis with abnormal liver function tests, or even prior to the onset of abnormal liver function tests, with positive antimitochondrial antibodies. Earlier diagnosis is changing not only our appreciation of the prevalence of this condition, but also of the natural history. The disease appears to be heterogeneous with some patients having a slow progression and a normal life-expectancy, although other patients have a more aggressive course developing symptoms and end-stage disease that leads to death or liver transplantation.