To evaluate indications for new therapies such as liver transplantation and antiviral therapy, survival of histologically proven hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive cirrhosis of the liver was assessed in a cohort of 98 patients followed up for a mean of 4.3 years. The overall survival probability was 92% at 1 year, 79% at 3 years, and 71% at 5 years. Variables significantly associated with the duration of survival were age, serum aspartate aminotransferase levels, presence of esophageal varices, and all five components of the Child-Pugh index (bilirubin, albumin, coagulation factors, ascites, encephalopathy). Multivariate analysis showed that only age, bilirubin, and ascites were independently related to survival. Survival of patients with decompensated cirrhosis (determined by the presence of ascites, jaundice, encephalopathy, and/or a history of variceal bleeding) and those with compensated cirrhosis at 5 years was 14% and 84%, respectively. For patients with compensated liver cirrhosis, hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) positivity was also a prognostic factor with a 5-year survival of 72% for HBeAg-positive cirrhosis and 97% for HBeAg-negative cirrhosis; the risk of death was decreased by a factor of 2.2 when HBeAg seroconversion occurred during follow-up. It is concluded that liver transplantation should be considered for patients with decompensated HBsAg-positive liver cirrhosis and antiviral therapy for patients with HBeAg-positive compensated cirrhosis.