Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the agent responsible for posttransfusion hepatitis. The incidence, timing, and clinical course of HCV positive hepatitis in liver transplant recipients are unknown. Three hundred and seventeen donor-recipient liver transplant pairs were grouped on the basis of their pretransplant HCV antibody status. The biopsy findings were examined. Four distinct groups were identified on the basis of HCV serology: group I, both were negative; group II, donor was negative and recipient was positive; group III, donor was positive and recipient was negative; group IV, both were positive. The prevalence of anti-HCV positivity in recipients was 13.6%. The rate of seroconversion was 9.2%. Histologic hepatitis not ascribable to any specific cause other than non-A, non-B (NANB) hepatitis occurred in 13.8%. The incidence of histologic chronic active hepatitis was 1.6%, and none progressed to cirrhosis. The concordance rate for a positive anti-HCV serology and NANB hepatitis was 2.8%. Of the 35 patients (group II and IV) with positive anti-HCV serology pretransplant, only 17 were positive posttransplantation. Based on these data it can be concluded that posttransplant NANB hepatitis occurred in 13.8% of liver recipients. Twenty percent of these were anti-HCV positive. Progression to histologic chronic active hepatitis occurs over a period of 1-5 years in 1.6% of cases.