In hepatitis C virus (HCV) patients with persistently normal alanine transaminase (ALT), the progression rate of fibrosis is unknown. The aims of this study were: 1) to compare HCV patients with normal ALT (group I) with HCV patients with elevated ALT (group II) matched on independent factors associated with fibrosis; and 2) to assess the progression rate of fibrosis. One hundred two HCV patients were included in each group. Histological lesions were staged using the METAVIR score. We defined fibrosis progression per year as the ratio of the fibrosis stage in METAVIR units to the duration of infection. In group I, ALT values were normal, and lower than in group II (25 vs. 127 IU/L; P < .0001). HCV RNA was present less frequently in group I (66% vs. 97%; P < .0001). There were no significant differences for viremia and genotypes. Histological activities were lower in group I (0.6 vs. 1.38; P < .0001). The stage of fibrosis was lower in group I (0.95 vs. 1.8; P < .001). The median progression rate of fibrosis was lower in group I (0.05 vs. 0.13; P < .001). In group I, after exclusion of negative HCV-RNA patients, the median progression rate of positives remained lower (0.05 vs. 0.13; P < .001). In group I, all cirrhotic patients (n = 3) were heavy drinkers. HCV patients with normal ALT showed weaker histological activity and lower fibrosis scores, and the progression rate of fibrosis was twice as slow as in HCV patients with elevated ALT. In these patients, severe fibrosis was associated with high alcohol consumption.