The prevalence of cholelithiasis and possible related factors was evaluated in 350 consecutive patients with alcoholic cirrhosis (218 cases, 174 male and 44 female, mean age 58 +/- 9 years) or genetic haemochromatotic cirrhosis (132 cases, 115 male and 17 female, mean age 53 +/- 10 years). At enrollment patients with alcoholic cirrhosis were significantly older than those with genetic haemochromatotic cirrhosis (P < 0.01), and their clinical status was more severe (Child's class B/C in 99 alcoholic cirrhosis cases versus 27 genetic haemochromatotic cirrhosis cases, P < 0.01). The overall frequency of cholelithiasis was 31% (67 cases) in the alcoholic cirrhosis group and 30% (40 cases) in the genetic haemochromatotic cirrhosis group, without differences according to gender, classes of age (< or = 49, 50-59, > or = 60 years), or HBsAg positivity in either group. In addition, in the genetic haemochromatotic cirrhosis group the presence of diabetes (45 cases), alcohol misuse (38 cases) and beta-thalassemia trait (13 cases) did not influence the prevalence of cholelithiasis. Body mass index, serum cholesterol and triglycerides, and the severity of the underlying liver disease (Child's class) did not distinguish patients with or without cholelithiasis. In conclusion, the frequency of cholelithiasis was high in both alcoholic cirrhosis and genetic haemochromatotic cirrhosis, and was three times higher than that reported in controls from the general population of the same area.