Among seven human hepatitis viruses (A to E, G and TT virus), hepatitis B (HBV) and C (HCV) viruses are able to persist in the host for years and principally contribute to the establishment of chronic hepatitis. During the course of persistent infection, continuous intrahepatic inflammation maintains a cycle of liver cell destruction and regeneration that often terminates in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). While the expression and retention of viral proteins in hepatocytes may influence the severity and progression of liver disease, the mechanisms of liver injury in viral hepatistis are defined to be due not to the direct cytopathic effects of viruses, but to the host immune response to viral proteins expressed by infected hepatocytes. In the process of liver injury, hepatocellular death (apoptosis) induced by the proapoptotic molecules of T cells activated following antigen recognition triggers a cascade of antigen nonspecific effector systems and causes necroinflammatory disease. Accordingly, the regulation of the immune response, e.g., via the cell death pathways, in chronically infected patients should prevent the development of HCC.