BACKGROUND/AIMS: The prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in Korea exhibits significant geographic variation, with it being higher in Busan and Jeonam than in other areas. The reason for this intranational geographic difference was investigated in this study by conducting a comparative analysis of the risk factors related to HCV infection among three geographic areas: the capital (Seoul), Busan, and the province of Jeolla. METHODS: In total, 990 patients with chronic HCV infection were prospectively enrolled at 5 university hospitals located in Seoul (n=374), Busan (n=264), and Jeolla (n=352). A standardized questionnaire survey on the risk factors for HCV infection was administered to these three groups of patients, and a comparative analysis of the findings was performed. RESULTS: The analysis revealed significant regional differences in exposure to the risk factors of HCV infection. By comparison with patients in Seoul as a control group in the multivariate analysis, patients in Busan had significantly more experience of invasive medical procedures, acupuncture, cosmetic procedures, and multiple sex partners. In contrast, patients in Jeolla were significantly older, and they had a higher prevalence of hepatocellular carcinoma, a lower prevalence of multiple sex partners, and had experienced fewer invasive procedures. CONCLUSIONS: There was a significant geographic difference in the exposure to potential risk factors of HCV infection between patients from the three studied regions. This may explain the regional variation of the prevalence of HCV infection in Korea, and should be taken into account when planning strategies for the prevention and management of HCV infection.