Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common cause of abnormal hepatic steatosis in the absence of alcohol abuse worldwide. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the most progressive form of NAFLD. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of apolipoprotein E (APOE) polymorphisms in the development of NASH. We analysed 57 NASH patients and 245 healthy controls using a polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) method in a case-control study. The diagnosis of the patients was based on liver biopsy. The serum levels of glucose, lipids, vitamin B12, folic acid, homocysteine, insulin, total biluribin, total protein, albumin, ferritin, aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) were determined in all of the subjects. Body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), AST, ALT, fasting blood sugar (FBS), total cholesterol, triglyceride (TG), low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol, insulin and ferritin levels were significantly higher in the 57 patients with NASH compared with the 245 healthy controls. The APOE epsilon 3 allele was overrepresented in the whole group of NASH patients (epsilon 3=97.37% in NASH versus 82.45% in controls). The APOE polymorphism was statistically significantly associated with NASH (chi 2=15.741; p=0.008). The APOE3/3 genotype (odds ratio [OR]=7.941; p=0.000) was strongly associated with increased risk for NASH in all NASH patients. Consequently, the APOE3/3 genotype may play a role in the aetiopathogenesis of NASH.