Monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP)-1 is a chemoattractant and activator for circulating monocytes and T lymphocytes. We investigated MCP-1 protein and gene expression during chronic liver disease at different stages, using immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization, respectively. In normal liver, a modest expression of MCP-1 was confined to few peri-sinusoidal cells and to bile duct epithelial cells. During chronic hepatitis, MCP-1 immunostaining and gene expression were evident in the inflammatory infiltrate of the portal tract. In tissue from patients with active cirrhosis, MCP-1 expression was clearly up-regulated and was present in the portal tract, in the epithelial cells of regenerating bile ducts, and in the active septa surrounding regenerating nodules. A combination of in situ hybridization for MCP-1 and immunohistochemistry showed that activated stellate cells and monocyte/macrophages contribute to MCP-1 expression in vivo together with bile duct epithelial cells. Comparison of serial sections of liver biopsies from patients with various degrees of necro-inflammatory activity showed that infiltration of the portal tracts with monocytes/macrophages is directly correlated with the expression of MCP-1. These data expand previous in vitro studies showing that secretion of MCP-1 may contribute to the formation and maintenance of the inflammatory infiltrate observed during chronic liver disease.