The status of Fas and Fas ligand (Fas L) expression was investigated in this study for 103 hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC). We studied the expression of the following three factors, Fas and Fas L expression in carcinoma cells and Fas L expression in stromal mononuclear cells (defined as stromal Fas L index). Fas expression in HCC cells was significantly decreased in cases with poor differentiation (P < 0.0001) and of larger size (P = 0.0058). Fas L expression in carcinoma cells was observed exclusively in moderately or poorly differentiated cases. Furthermore, each factor had prognostic significance for disease-free survival (DFS) (P< 0.0001, P = 0.0222 and 0.0027 respectively). We then scored the results of each factor and defined the total score as 'Fas-Fas L risk score'. The P-value of the score for DFS was even lower than that of the clinical stage by multivariate analysis. These results suggest that the evaluation of Fas and Fas ligand expression potentially has a significant prognostic value for DFS of HCC patients, in addition to the clinical stage, and can be regarded as a new prognostic marker.