Lambda interferon (IFN-lambda) induces an intracellular IFN-alpha/beta-like antiviral response through a receptor complex distinct from the IFN-alpha/beta receptor. We therefore determined the ability of IFN-lambda to inhibit hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication. IFN-lambda inhibits HBV replication in a differentiated murine hepatocyte cell line with kinetics and efficiency similar to IFN-alpha/beta and does not require the expression of IFN-alpha/beta or IFN-gamma. Furthermore, IFN-lambda blocked the replication of a subgenomic and a full-length genomic HCV replicon in human hepatocyte Huh7 cells. These results suggest the possibility that IFN-lambda may be therapeutically useful in the treatment of chronic HBV or HCV infection.