We evaluated the occurrence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in 97 former soccer players who played in Recife, Brazil in the 1960s and 1970s, and analysed the risk factors for infection, such as history of transfusions, surgery, tattoos, piercings, and the use of illicit drugs or injectable vitamin complexes. Immunochromatographic testing was performed to detect anti-HCV antibodies. All former soccer players were men (mean age 59·2 years), of whom 62 (64%) and 35 (36%) were classified as amateurs and professionals, respectively. Seven (7·2%) tested positive for anti-HCV antibodies; three (4·8%) were amateurs, and four (11·4%) were professionals. In univariate analysis, transfusion, surgery, and use of injectable vitamin complexes were associated with HCV infection, while in multivariate analysis, only the use of injectable vitamin complexes was related (P=0·0005). We observed a high frequency of HCV infection in former soccer players, especially in professionals who used injectable vitamin complexes.