The role of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in post-transfusion non-A, non-B hepatitis (NANBH) was investigated by analysing clinical samples for both HCV RNA by cDNA/polymerase chain reaction and antibodies against C100-3 by radioimmunoassay. Of fifteen chronic NANBH patients and one patient with chronic cryptogenic liver disease, ten were positive for anti-C100-3 and seven of the ten had viral sequences in their livers. However, two patients negative for anti-C100-3 also had substantial levels of HCV RNA in their livers. In acute post-transfusion NANBH (one surgical patient and two experimentally infected chimpanzees), HCV RNA was detected in the absence of anti-C100-3. In addition, infectious plasma from a seronegative patient with acute post-transfusion NANBH and a seronegative pool of plasma from a chimpanzee with chronic post-transfusion NANBH had high levels of HCV. These findings show that anti-C100-3-positive patients with chronic post-transfusion NANBH are likely to be viraemic; confirm that antibodies to C100-3 are a marker for infectivity; and suggest that the prevalence of HCV infections may be underestimated from the frequency of antibodies to C100-3 alone.