Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is a hepatotropic human picornavirus that has been associated only with acute infection. Its pathogenesis is not well understood since there have been few recent studies in animal models using modern methodologies. We characterized HAV infections in three chimpanzees, quantifying viral RNA by qRT-PCR and examining critical aspects of the innate immune response including intrahepatic interferon-stimulated gene expression. We compared these infection profiles with similar studies of chimpanzees infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), a hepatotropic flavivirus that frequently causes persistent infection. Surprisingly, HAV-infected animals exhibited very limited induction of type I interferon-stimulated genes in the liver compared to chimpanzees with acute resolving HCV infection, despite similar levels of viremia and 100-fold greater quantities of viral RNA in the liver. Minimal ISG15 and IFIT1 responses peaked 1-2 weeks after HAV challenge, then subsided despite continuing high hepatic viral loads. An acute inflammatory response at 3-4 weeks correlated with the appearance of virus-specific antibodies, and both apoptosis and proliferation of hepatocytes. Despite this, HAV RNA persisted in the liver for months, remaining present long after its clearance from serum and feces and revealing dramatic differences in the kinetics of clearance in the three compartments. Viral RNA was detected in the liver for significantly longer (35 to >48 weeks) than HCV RNA in animals with acute resolving HCV infection (10-20 weeks). Collectively, these findings suggest that early HAV infection is far stealthier than HCV infection and represents a distinctly different paradigm in viral-host interactions within the liver.