Patients with chronic liver disease (CLD) have frequent exposure to Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) risk factors but the incidence and aetiology of CDI on this population is poorly understood. The aim of this study was to assess the incidence, disease presentation and outcomes of CDI in patients with underlying CLD. The Health Care and Utilization Project National Inpatient Sample (HCUP-NIS) 2009 dataset was used to identify patients with CLD who developed CDI along with matched non-CLD patients with CDI. Using the NIS dataset, the incidence rate of CDI was 189.4/10 000 discharges in CLD patients vs. 83.7/10 000 discharges in the non-CLD matched cohort (P < 0.001). Compared with non-CLD, comorbidity-matched controls with CDI, CLD patients with CDI had higher likelihood of in-hospital mortality (8.8% vs. 18.6%, P < 0.001), increased length of stay by 1.19 days (P < 0.001) and increased total costs by $8632 (P < 0.001). In separate analyses using a tertiary case database of hospitalised patients in Houston, Texas (2006–2016) with CLD and CDI (n = 41) compared with patients with CDI but not CLD (n = 111), CLD patients had significantly higher Charlson comorbidity index (P < 0.0001) but similar risk factors for CDI and CDI-related disease presentation compared with non-CLD patients. In conclusion, CDI-related risk factors were almost universally present in the CLD population. CDI resulted in worse outcomes in this population.