Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common tumors worldwide affecting preferentially patients with liver cirrhosis. The studies were performed on tissues obtained during surgery from 50 patients with HCC, 40 with liver cirrhosis and 40 control livers. It was found that arginase activity in HCC was nearly 5- and 15-fold lower than in cirrhotic and normal livers, respectively. Isoenzymes AI (so-called liver-type arginase) and AII (extrahepatic arginase) were identified by Western blotting in all studied tissues, however the amount of AI, as well as the expression of AI-mRNA were lower in HCC, in comparison with normal liver, and those of AII were significantly higher. Since HCC is arginine-dependent, and arginine is essential for cells growth, the decrease of AI may preserve this amino acid within tumor cells. Concurrently, the rise of AII can increase the level of polyamines, compounds crucial for cells proliferation. Thus, both arginase isoenzymes seem to participate in liver cancerogenesis.