Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a common and rapidly progressing malignancy. Current treatment options for advanced HCC are limited. This clinical study of dendritic cell (DC)-based immunotherapy for HCC enrolled 31 patients with advanced HCC. DCs, propagated from peripheral blood monocytes, were pulsed with autologous tumor lysates to treat HCC. The first 14 patients underwent pulsed therapy with five courses of DC vaccination intravenously at weekly intervals. The other 17 patients underwent monthly boost vaccinations after the initial pulsed therapy. Among the 31 patients, 4 (12.9%) exhibited partial response to DC vaccination. Seventeen patients (54.8%) had stable disease. Ten patients (32.3%) had progressive disease. The overall 1-year survival rate of all 31 patients was 40.1 +/- 9.1%. The patients treated with pulsed and boosted therapy had better 1-year survival rates than those treated by pulsed therapy alone (63.3 +/- 12.0% vs. 10.7 +/- 9.4%; P < 0.001). In this trial, DC vaccinations for advanced HCC were safe. Liver function tests showed no difference before and after DC vaccinations. The results of this clinical trial indicate that DC vaccination is a safe treatment for HCC. Pulsed DC vaccination followed by boosters can provide better clinical survival for advanced HCC patients than pulsed DC vaccination only. Further studies are needed to increase the efficacy of this therapeutic approach.