Liver stiffness was measured by transient elastography (FibroScan) in 228 consecutive patients with chronic viral hepatitis, with (115) or without cirrhosis (113), to study its correlations with serum transaminases [alanine aminotransferase (ALT)], fibrosis stage and surrogate noninvasive markers of fibrosis (APRI, FORNS, FibroTest and hyaluronic acid). The dynamic profiles of serum transaminases and liver stiffness were compared by multiple testing in 31 patients during a 6-month follow-up. We identified 8.3 and 14 kPa as the fibrosis >/=F2 and cirrhosis cut-offs, respectively: their sensitivities were 85.2%/78.3%; specificities 90.7%/98.2%; positive predictive values 93.9%/97.8%; negative predictive values 78.8%/81.6%; diagnostic accuracies 87.3%/88.2%. FibroScan performed better than the other surrogate markers of fibrosis (P < 0.001). Other than fibrosis, other factors independently associated with liver stiffness were ALT for all patients and chronic hepatitis patients (P < 0.001), and 12-month persistently normal ALT (biochemical remission, P < 0.001) in cirrhotics. In patients with biochemical remission either spontaneous or after antiviral therapy (48 of 228, 21%), liver stiffness was lower than in patients with identical fibrosis stage, but elevated ALT (P < 0.001). The liver stiffness dynamic profiles paralleled those of ALT, increasing 1.3- to 3-fold during ALT flares in 10 patients with hepatitis exacerbations. Liver stiffness remained unchanged in 21 with stable biochemical activity (P = 0.001). In conclusion, transient elastography is a new liver parameter that behaves as a reliable surrogate marker of fibrosis in chronic viral hepatitis patients, provided that its relationship with major changes of biochemical activity is taken into account.