Bone marrow transplant recipients are at risk for acquiring hepatitis C infection from the donated marrow. Twelve patients who were hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA-negative pretransplant received marrow from anti-HCV seropositive donors. HCV RNA was present in the sera of seven of these donors. After transplant, serial serum specimens were obtained from all marrow recipients for determination of HCV RNA and aminotransferase levels. All seven recipients of marrow from HCV RNA-positive donors were HCV RNA-positive after marrow infusion; none cleared virus from the serum. All five recipients of marrow from anti-HCV seropositive, HCV RNA-negative donors remained free of HCV RNA in serum up to day 100. Abnormal serum aminotransferases were common in both HCV RNA- negative and HCV RNA-positive marrow recipients. One HCV-infected recipient developed marked elevation in aminotransferases after immunosuppressive drugs were stopped. We conclude that the presence of HCV RNA in the serum of marrow donors is an accurate predictor of HCV infection in marrow recipients. The acute infection was subclinical in all patients. The long-term risk of chronic hepatitis C virus infection in these patients remains to be determined.

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