The role of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the pathogenesis of HCV-associated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains controversial. To understand the transition from benign to malignant, we studied the gene expression patterns in liver tissues at different stages, including normal, cirrhosis, and different HCC stages. We studied 108 liver tissue samples obtained from 88 distinct patients (41 HCV-cirrhotic tissues, 17 HCV-cirrhotic tissues from patients with HCC, and 47 HCV-HCC tissues). Differentially expressed genes (DEG) were studied by use of high-density oligonucleotide arrays. Among probe sets identified as differentially expressed via the F test, all pairwise comparisons were performed. Cirrhotic tissues with and without concomitant HCC were further evaluated, and a classifier was used to predict whether the tissue type was associated with HCC. Differential expression profiles were analyzed using Interaction Networks and Functional Analysis. Characteristic gene signatures were identified when normal tissue was compared with cirrhosis, cirrhosis with early HCC, and normal with HCC. Pathway analysis classified the cellular and biological functions of the DEG as related to cellular growth and proliferation, cell death and inflammatory disease in cirrhosis; cell death, cell cycle, DNA replication, and immune response in early HCCs; and cell death, cell growth and proliferation, cell cycle, and DNA repair in advanced HCCs. Characteristic gene signatures were identified at different stages of HCV-HCC progression. A set of genes were identified to predict whether the cirrhotic tissue was associated with HCC.