To determine whether a careful evaluation of tumor extension by preoperative computed tomography scan after intra-arterial injection of ultrafluid lipiodol and by intraoperative ultrasound examination reduced the recurrence rate of hepatocellular carcinoma after resection, a series of 47 cirrhotic patients with a single tumor operated on from 1984 was studied. Alphafetoprotein level was less than 100 ng/mL in 26 patients (55%), size of the tumor was less than 5 cm in 28 patients (59%), and capsule was present in 30 patients (63%). The resection was performed with free margin measuring 1 cm or more. The overall cumulative survival rates at 3 and 5 years were 35% and 17%, respectively. Intrahepatic recurrence was observed in 28 patients (60%), located less than 2 cm from the resection margin in only four patients. The cumulative intrahepatic recurrence rate at 3 years was 81% and was significantly higher in patients with tumor greater than or equal to 5 cm and in patients with preoperative alphafetoprotein level of greater than or equal to 100 ng/mL. In this series the cumulative intrahepatic recurrence rate at 5 years was 100%. This high recurrence rate after resection, even with careful evaluation of tumor extension, indicates that liver transplantation might be envisaged for the treatment of cirrhotic patients with resectable hepatocellular carcinoma.