In a cohort of 292 chronic hepatitis C patients living in the Benelux countries the relationship between viral genotype and geographical origin, route of transmission, clinical characteristics and severity of liver disease was analyzed. HCV-RNA isolates could be classified by the Line Probe Assay (LiPA) as 1a, 1b, 2, 3, 4 or 5 in 286 (98%) cases. Patients of European origin were predominantly infected with HCV subtype 1b (164/254, 65%, CI 58-70%), as were patients of Asian origin (7/13, 54%). Patients originating from Surinam (South America) had predominantly type 2 (9/10, 90%), whereas Africans were mainly infected with type 4 (7/9, 77%). Blood transfusion was the mode of transmission in 142 (50%) patients, intravenous drug abuse (IVDA) in 40 (14%), occupational needle accident or tattoo in 11 (4%); no obvious source of infection was found in 93 (33%). In patients infected by blood transfusion, subtype 1b was predominant (70%, CI 61-77%), whereas subtypes la and 3 were predominant in those infected by IVDA (25% and 45%, respectively, p<0.001). Cirrhosis was observed in 68 (24%) patients; in multivariate analysis, factors independently related to cirrhosis were: the duration of infection, age and prior hepatitis B. No significant relationship was found between the severity of fibrosis or liver inflammation and the HCV (sub)types. In summary, in this large cohort of patients in the Benelux countries the hepatitis C virus (sub)type present was clearly related to the country of origin and the route of transmission, but not to the severity of liver disease.