Nearly 400 hemodialysis patients treated at 5 different hemodialysis units in Rio de Janeiro were tested for one year for the presence of hepatitis C and B markers. During the same period, samples were also obtained from 35 continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) patients and from 242 health care workers. Depending on the hemodialysis unit studied, anti-HCV prevalence rates ranging from 47% to 82% (mean 65%) were detected. CAPD patients showed a lower prevalence of 17%. The prevalence of antibodies against hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV) among health care workers was 2.9%. We observed a hepatitis C attack rate of 11.5% per year in the anti-HCV-negative hemodialysis patient population. An average of 9.4% of the hemodialysis patients were chronic carriers of hepatitis B virus (HBV) (range 1.8% - 20.4%), while 48.9% showed markers of previous HBV infection. The HBV attack rate was 4.5% per year (range 0% - 6%). These results indicate an alarming high prevalence of anti-HCV among hemodialysis patients of this studied region.