The purpose of our study was to determine the frequency of detection of small hepatic lesions (less than or equal to 15 mm) in outpatients who had abdominal CT and to assess the significance of these lesions in the presence or absence of known malignant tumors. Contrast-enhanced abdominal CT scans in 1454 patients were reviewed. In 254 patients (17%), hepatic lesions 15 mm or smaller were detected. In 51% of these patients, lesions were judged benign on the basis of other imaging studies, biopsy results, or stability for at least 6 months as shown by CT. Lesions were judged malignant on the basis of progression seen on radiologic studies or biopsy in 22%. The other 27% of the patients had lesions that could not be classified. The majority of patients with small hepatic lesions (82%) were known to have a malignant tumor; in 51% of these patients, lesions were diagnosed as benign. No patient without a known malignant tumor had a small hepatic lesion that was determined to be malignant. Multiple small lesions were more likely to represent malignant disease than were single small lesions. We conclude that small hepatic lesions are common (seen in 17% of our patients), and that there is a high probability that hepatic lesions smaller than 15 mm are benign, even in patients known to have an extrahepatic malignant tumor.