Background Pegylated interferon alpha 2 (a or b) plus ribavirin is the most effective treatment of chronic hepatitis C but a large proportion of patients do not respond to therapy. So, it is interesting to improve the treatment efficacy. Interferon alpha is a type I interferon composed of 12 different subtypes. Each subtype signals by the Jak-Stat pathway but modulations in the antiviral activity was previously described. Methods Using the hepatitis C virus (HCV) culture system, we have tested the anti-HCV activity of each interferon alpha subtypes. We have analyzed the effect of each subtype on the HCV multiplication and the cell-signaling pathway for some subtypes. Results There were divergent effects of IFN alpha subtypes against HCV. We have found that IFN alpha 17 was three times more efficient than IFN alpha 2a on HCV. This efficiency was related to a stronger stimulation of the Jak-Stat pathway. Conclusion We suggest that IFN α17 should be tested therapeutically with a view to improving treatment efficacy.