The predictive value of piecemeal necrosis (PMN) in acute hepatitis was investigated in 62 patients (39 hepatitis B virus infection, 9 hepatitis A virus infection and 14 possible hepatitis NANB virus infection). The 62 initial biopsies were blindly recoded and classified into three groups: 1. Acute hepatitis with signs of possible transition to chronicity (AHTC) (n = 35) (i.e. a picture of acute hepatitis associated with PMN). 2. AHTC-borderline group (BL) (n = 15) (i.e. a picture of acute hepatitis with minimal PMN). 3. Uncomplicated acute hepatitis (AH) (n = 12) (i.e. a picture of acute hepatitis without PMN). Follow-up of the patients revealed an evolution to chronicity in a very high percentage of the AHTC-cases of hepatitis B (95%) and NANB (89%) etiology. Also 67% of the BL-cases of hepatitis B etiology developed chronic liver disease. In hepatitis B the immunohistochemical pattern of HBsAg is of additional help. In hepatitis A, PMN is often present (5/9) but no evolution to chronicity was observed. This study shows that PMN in acute hepatitis appears to be a useful prognostic feature for chronicity in hepatitis B and NANB.