BACKGROUND Natural killer (NK) cells are an important element of innate immunity against viruses, although their numbers decrease in the liver during chronic HCV infection. NK cells express a large panel of inhibitory and activating receptors. The most polymorphic of these are killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) which are encoded by multiple genes that may be present or absent in given individuals depending on their genotype. This variability results in differential susceptibility to viral infections and diseases, including HCV infection and its consequences. AIMS AND METHODS The aim of this study was to test whether chronical infection with HCV and the viremia levels are associated with any KIR gene in the Polish population. We typed 301 chronically HCV-infected patients and 425 non-infected healthy individuals for the presence or absence of KIR genes and their ligands, HLA-C C1 and C2 groups as well as HLA-B and HLA-A Bw4-positive alleles. RESULTS We found that males, but not females, possessing KIR2DS2 and KIR2DL2 genes had a 1.7 higher probability to become chronically HCV-infected than males negative for these genes (p=0.0213). In accord with this, centromeric B region, containing KIR2DS2 and KIR2DL2 genes, was also associated with chronic HCV infection in males. In addition, patients of both genders possessing KIR2DS3 but not KIR2DS5 gene exhibited, on average, 2.6 lower level of viremia than HCV-infected individuals with other genotypes (p=0.00282). This was evident in those infected at a young age. KIR2DS3-positive patients also had lower mean levels of bilirubin than KIR2DS3-negative ones (p=0.02862). CONCLUSION Our results suggest a contribution of the KIR2DS2 and KIR2DL2 genes (cenB haplotype) to the susceptibility to chronic HCV infection, and an association of the KIR2DS3 gene in the absence of KIR2DS5 with low viremia levels.