MacBooks with the flawed drives will show a flashing question mark on the screen when the computer is turned on. Apple did not describe the conditions that could lead to hard-drive failure.
The affected MacBooks are 13-inch models with processor speeds of 1.83 GHz, 2 GHz or 2.16 GHz, and hard drive capacities of 60 GB, 80 GB, 100 GB, 120 GB or 160 GB. MacBooks that show symptoms of having the faulty drive should be taken to an Apple store or authorized service provider, the company said.
Apple announced the repair program Monday on its support site. Customers who paid for out-of-warranty repairs covered under the program can contact Apple technical support for reimbursement.
The program covers affected MacBook models for three years from their original date of purchase or until August 15, 2010, whichever provides longer coverage.
Apple, like other computer makers, has had to fix problems that occasionally arise in products. In April 2007, the company released a software fix for battery performance problems in MacBook and MacBook Pro computers sold between February 2006 and April 2007.
In October 2006, it released a firmware update for its MacBook line to fix a sudden shutdown problem reported by customers.
More recently, Apple this month updated the display firmware in the 27-inch iMac to correct a flaw that caused the screen to flicker intermittently. The fix was the second firmware update to fix image corruption in the company's largest iMac.