Awareness of previous hepatic encephalopathy (HE) and compliance with treatment can probably reduce HE recurrence. The aim of this study was to assess the degree of awareness of previous HE and its treatment in a group of cirrhotic patients and their caregivers. Thirty-five cirrhotic patients with a history of HE and their caregivers (n = 31) were enrolled. Patients underwent evaluation of HE (clinical, psychometry and electroencephalography), quality of life (SF36 questionnaire), and awareness of HE/treatment on an ad hoc questionnaire (QAE). Caregivers underwent the QAE plus the Caregiver Burden Inventory. On the day of study, 7 patients were unimpaired, 8 had minimal and 20 low-grade overt HE. Of the patients, 37 % were aware of previous HE, 6 % of being on treatment and 6 % understood treatment effects. Of the caregivers, 48 % were aware of previous HE, 6 % of their relative being on treatment and 6 % understood treatment effects. Significant correlations were observed between neuropsychiatric status/linear HE indices and both the patients' quality of life and the caregivers' burden. In conclusion, HE awareness was poor in both patients and caregivers, most likely in relation to insufficient/inadequate provision of information.