The natural outcome and response to treatment in hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection varies between individuals. Whereas some variation may be attributable to viral and environmental variables, it is probable that host genetic background also plays a significant role. Interleukin (IL)-10 has a key function in the regulation of cellular immune responses and in the suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion. Functional polymorphisms in the IL-10 gene have been described. We investigated the role of these polymorphisms in the outcome of HCV infection, treatment response and development of fibrosis in a case-control association study. Self-limiting infection was associated with the IL-10 (-592) AA genotype (OR=2.05; P=0.028). Persistent infection was associated with the IL-10 (-1082) GG genotype (OR=0.48; P=0.018). Sustained response to interferon therapy was associated with the IL-10 (-1082) GG genotype (OR=2.28; P=0.005) and the haplotype GCC (OR=2.27; P=0.020). The IL-10 (-1082) AA genotype and the ATA/ATA and ACC/ACC homozygous haplotypes were more frequent among patients with rapid fibrosis. Furthermore, the microsatellites IL-10.R and IL-10.G were associated with interferon response with IL-10R.2 conveying susceptibility (OR=1.80; P=0.034), and IL-10R.3 and IL-10.G13 being protective (OR=0.47; P=0.003 and OR=0.59; P=0.042, respectively). We conclude that polymorphisms in the IL-10 promoter appear to have some influence on the outcome of HCV infection, treatment and development of fibrosis.