Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a major cause of chronic liver disease with approximately 180 million people infected worldwide. Hepatic steatosis is a frequent histological finding in chronic hepatitis C (CHC) infection and is 2- to 3-fold more common than would be expected by chance alone. A high body mass index with excess visceral fat distribution is associated with steatosis in patients infected with HCV genotype 1 but not genotype 3, re-enforcing the concept that in patients with CHC, some have "metabolic steatosis", predominantly HCV genotype 1, and others "viral steatosis", mainly HCV genotype 3. Accumulating evidence suggests that steatosis may contribute to progression of fibrosis in CHC. Hepatic insulin resistance appears to play a role through the pro-fibrogenic effects of compensatory hyperinsulinemia. The aim of this review was to assess the effect host and viral factors play in steatosis development in patients with CHC infection and its possible relationship with hepatocellular carcinoma. The review examines the mechanisms by which CHC infection causes hepatic steatosis, the impact hepatic steatosis has on the natural history of the disease and finally, explores if treatments leading to a reduction in the amount of steatosis might lead to improved treatment outcomes. The basic medical science of steatosis in CHC will be discussed including proposed models of steatogenesis and the influence of viral and metabolic factors at the molecular level and how these might impact on current and future therapies.