BACKGROUND: Decreased vitamin D levels have been described in various forms of chronic liver disease and associated with advanced fibrosis. Whether this association is a cause or consequence of advanced fibrosis remains unclear to date. AIMS: To analyse combined effects of 25-OH vitamin D plasma levels and vitamin D receptor gene (VDR; NR1I1) polymorphisms on fibrosis progression rate in HCV patients. METHODS: 251 HCV patients underwent VDR genotyping (bat-haplotype: BsmI rs1544410 C, ApaI rs7975232 A and TaqI rs731236 A). Plasma 25-OH vitamin D levels were quantified in a subgroup of 97 patients without advanced fibrosis. The VDR haplotype and genotypes as well as plasma 25-OH vitamin D levels were associated with fibrosis progression. RESULTS: The bAt[CCA]-haplotype was significantly associated with fibrosis progression >0.101 U/year (P = 0.007; OR = 2.02) and with cirrhosis (P = 0.022; OR = 1.84). Forty-five percent of bAt[CCA]-haplotype patients were rapid fibrosers, 21.1% were cirrhotic. Likewise, ApaI rs7975232 CC genotype was significantly associated with fibrosis progression and cirrhosis. Lower plasma 25-OH vitamin D levels were significantly associated with fibrosis progression >0.101 U/year in F0-2 patients (P = 0.013). Combined analysis of both variables revealed a highly significant additive effect on fibrosis progression with 45.5% rapid fibrosers for bAt[CCA]-haplotype and 25-OH vitamin D < 20 μg/L compared with only 9.1% for the most favourable combination (P = 0.006). In multivariate analysis, the bAt-haplotype was an independent risk factor for fibrosis progression (P = 0.001; OR = 2.83). CONCLUSION: Low 25-OH vitamin D plasma levels and the unfavourable VDR bAt[CCA]-haplotype are associated with rapid fibrosis progression in chronic HCV patients. In combination, both variables exert significant additive effects on fibrosis progression.