Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a major cause of chronic liver disease, which can lead to the development of liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Current therapy of patients with chronic HCV infection includes treatment with IFNalpha in combination with ribavirin. Because most treated patients do not resolve the infection, alternative treatment is essential. RNA interference (RNAi) is a recently discovered antiviral mechanism present in plants and animals that induces double-stranded RNA degradation. Using a selectable subgenomic HCV replicon cell culture system, we have shown that RNAi can specifically inhibit HCV RNA replication and protein expression in Huh-7 cells that stably replicate the HCV genome, and that this antiviral effect is independent of IFN. These results suggest that RNAi may represent a new approach for the treatment of persistent HCV infection.