Chronic delta hepatitis is the most severe form of chronic viral hepatitis for which interferon (IFN) is the only available treatment. In 39 patients (25 were treatment-naive, 14 had previously used IFN), efficacy of 1-year treatment with IFN (9 MU, t.i.w.) or lamivudine (LAM; 100 mg, q.d.) alone was compared with IFN and LAM combination (2 months of LAM to be followed by combination treatment). IFN monotherapy was given only to treatment-naive patients. In both treatment-naive and previous IFN users, end of treatment virological and biochemical responses were similar with IFN-LAM combination and superior to LAM monotherapy (P < 0.05). Improvement in liver histology occurred more often with IFN +/- LAM than with LAM alone (P < 0.05). In treatment-naive patients, combination treatment was not superior to IFN monotherapy. After treatment discontinuation, virological and biochemical response rates decreased in LAM and IFN combination and IFN monotherapy. On treatment virological response at month 6 of treatment predicted sustained virological response. The results of this study suggest that addition of LAM to IFN for the treatment of delta hepatitis is of no additional value and that both treatment modalities are superior to LAM monotherapy.