An epidemiological association between cigarette smoking and primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) has been demonstrated. Our aim was to determine the relationship between smoking and severity of liver fibrosis at presentation in patients with PBC. All patients with PBC seen at the three major teaching hospitals of Case Western Reserve University between October 1998 and December 2005 were identified. Data obtained at the time of the first evaluation leading to the PBC diagnosis on 97 patients were collected. The cumulative number of cigarette packs smoked per year (pack-years) was calculated. Advanced histological disease was defined as Ludwig stages 3 or 4. Analyses were performed to determine associations between advanced histological disease, smoking and other variables related to liver fibrosis. Smoking history was more common (P = .0008) in patients with advanced histological disease at presentation compared to those with early disease. Among smokers, mean lifetime tobacco consumption was higher (P = .04) in cases with advanced histological disease at presentation (30 pack-years) compared to cases with early disease (17 pack-years). Logistic regression demonstrated a significant association between a lifetime tobacco consumption of > or =10 pack-years and advanced histological disease at presentation (OR = 13.3). The association remained significant after adjusting for age, gender, and alcohol intake. The validity of these results was corroborated by cross-validation in an independent confirmatory set of 172 patients with PBC. In conclusion, smoking may accelerate the progression of PBC. This could be induced by exposure to chemicals in cigarette smoke.