The World Health Organization estimates that about 170 million people are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). Blood transfusions from unscreened donors and unsafe therapeutic procedures are the major modes of HCV transmission in the developing world, and injection drug use accounts for most newly diagnosed HCV infections in the developed countries. Acute infection with HCV leads to symptomatic hepatitis in only a minority of patients, and recent studies suggest that spontaneous clearance of virus is higher in symptomatic acute hepatitis C infection. Pooled data from various studies suggest that higher sustained viral clearance rates could be achieved with a shorter course of antiviral treatment in the early stages of chronic HCV infection. This article examines the diagnosis of acute infection and critically appraises the various treatment regimens.