Serial plasma aliquots (50 mL) obtained from 10 commercial donors who converted from hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA negative to positive were transfused into 2 chimpanzees to assess infectivity during early HCV infection. Plasma, obtained 4 days before HCV RNA detectability by licensed assays, transmitted HCV infection to chimpanzee X355. The infectious PCR-negative plasma was subsequently shown to be positive in 2 of 23 replicates using a sensitive transcription-mediated amplification (TMA) assay, and estimated to contain 1.2 HCV RNA copies/mL (60 copies/50 mL transfused). Plasma units obtained up to 8 weeks earlier were not infectious in a second susceptible chimp, even when from donors with lowlevel, intermittent HCV RNA detection. Chimp x355 developed acute viremia with subsequent seroconversion, but cleared both virus and Ab in 17 weeks. When rechallenged 38 months later with 6000 RNA copies/mL from the same donor, X355 was transiently reinfected and again rapidly lost allHCVmarkers.We conclude that: (1) transfusions can transmit HCV infection before RNA detection, but the interval of test-negative infectivity is very brief; (2) early "blips" of HCV RNA appear noninfectious and can be ignored when calculating residual transfusion risk; and (3) markers of HCV infection can be lost rapidly after exposure to low-dose inocula.