[en] The standard treatment for patients with chronic hepatitis C is a 6-12-month combination therapy with interferon alpha and ribavirin. Induction treatment could result in a faster early decline of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) load and a better response rate. Naive chronically infected HCV patients (n = 454) were randomized into two arms to receive either induction treatment with interferon alpha 2b 5 million units (MU) subcutaneously (s.c.) daily during a period of 8 weeks (arm A); or treatment with interferon alpha 2b 5 MU s.c. three times a week (TIW) for a period of 8 weeks (arm B). After week 8, interferon treatment in both arms was 3 MU s.c. TIW for a total period of 12 months. In both arms, ribavirin (1000-1200 mg orally per day) was added at week 4. Induction treatment resulted in a higher virological response at week 8 of treatment (66%vs 47%; P < 0.01). However, response at the end of treatment and at 6 months follow-up was not different (53%vs 50%, 41%vs 33%). The occurrence of adverse events and the drop-out rate were similar in both arms. Although an early virological response is observed more frequently in the induction treatment, end of treatment response and sustained responses did not differ.