The effect of menaquinone-4 (MK-4, vitamin K2) was studied on des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin (DCP or PIVKA-II) levels in three subjects with vitamin K deficiency and five patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with positive DCP. The half-life of DCP in HCC patients after intravenous MK-4 administration (50 mg daily for 14 days) was determined to be 60 hours, identical to that found in vitamin K-deficient subjects who received MK-4. When a single dose of MK-4 (10 mg) was given intravenously to three patients with HCC and elevated DCP, the levels decreased with a reduction rate identical to that in vitamin K-deficient subjects for the first 1 to 3 days, followed by an increase reaching the previous level in 7 to 10 days. Changes in plasma coagulant activity were compared between subjects with vitamin K deficiency and those with HCC before and after a single dose of MK-4 (10 mg). The activity increased in DCP-positive patients with HCC as in vitamin K-deficient subjects who received the same single dose of MK-4. The increase was greater in HCC patients with higher DCP levels. These results suggest that the level of plasma DCP in patients with HCC responded to vitamin K with the same sensitivity as that in vitamin K-deficient subjects. When patients with HCC underwent effective tumor therapy (resection or arterial embolization), the reduction rate (slope of DCP decline) was found to be identical to that in vitamin K-deficient subjects given with MK-4. In patients with less effective therapy, the reduction rate was smaller, or there was an increase in DCP. These observations strongly suggest that sequential measurements of the DCP reduction rate after treatment for HCC are useful for assessing therapeutic effects.