We assessed the prevalence of gallbladder disease (i.e. gallstones plus cholecystectomy) among patients with liver disease and its association with the severity and aetiology of hepatic injury. Subjects, referred to 79 Italian hospitals, were enrolled in a 6-month period. The independent effect of the severity and aetiology of liver disease on gallstone disease prevalence was assessed by multiple logistic regression analysis. Overall, 4867 subjects tested anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) positive alone, 839 were hepatitis B virus surface antigen (HBsAg) alone, and 652 had an excessive alcohol intake. The prevalence of gallstone disease was 23.3% in anti-HCV-positive patients, 12.4% in HBsAg positive and 24.2% in subjects reporting excessive alcohol intake, respectively. Gallstone disease prevalence increased by age in each aetiological category. The proportion of patients with gallstone disease who had a cholecystectomy was the highest in HCV+ subjects. After adjusting for the confounding effect of age and body mass index, compared with patients with less severe liver disease, subjects with HCV-related cirrhosis, but not those with alcohol-related cirrhosis, were more likely to have gallstone disease. Subjects with HCV-related cirrhosis (OR 2.13, 95% CI: 1.38-3.26) were more likely to have gallstone disease when compared with those with HBV-related cirrhosis. HCV infection is a risk factor for gallstone disease. In Italy, the high prevalence of HCV infection among cirrhotic patients has important implications, as cholecystectomy in these subjects is associated with high risk of morbidity and mortality.