This study aims to investigate the expression status of miRNA-216b in familial hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and the correlation between miRNA-216b expression and pathogenesis, as well as the progression of HCC. The expression profile of miRNAs in plasma of peripheral blood between HCC patients with HCC family history and healthy volunteers without HCC family history was determined by microarray. Using real-time quantitative PCR to detect the expression in paired tissues from 150 patients with HCC, miR-216b was selected as its expression value in HCC patients was significantly lower compared with healthy volunteers. Next, miR-216b expression and the clinicopathological features of HCC were evaluated. The effect of miR-216b expression on tumor cells was investigated by regulating miR-216b expression in SMMC-7721 and HepG2 in vitro and in vivo. Finally, we explored mRNA targets of miR-216b. In 150 HCC, 37 (75%) tumors showed reduced miR-216b expression comparing with their adjacent liver tissues. The decreased expression of miR-216b was significantly correlated with tumor volume (P=0.044), HBV infection (P=0.026), HBV DNA quantitative (P=0.001) and vascular invasion (P=0.032). The 5-year disease-free survival and overall rates after liver resection in low expression and high expression groups of miR-216b are 62% and 54%, 25% and 20%, respectively. MiR-216b overexpression inhibited cell proliferation, migration and invasion, and miR-216b inhibition did the opposite. The expression of hepatitis B virus x protein (HBx) has tight correlation with downregulation of miR-216b. Furthermore, miR-216b downregulated the expression of insulin-like growth factor 2 mRNA-binding protein 2 (IGF2BP2) and exerted its tumor-suppressor function through inhibition of protein kinase B and extracellular signal-regulated kinase signaling downstream of IGF2. MiR-216b inhibits cell proliferation, migration and invasion of HCC by regulating IGF2BP2 and it is regulated by HBx.