Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the seventh most common cancer in men and the ninth most common cancer in women with 500,000 to 1,000,000 new cases per year. Several risk factors (sex hormones, alcohol, thorotrast, aflatoxin B1, hepatitis B or C, haemochromatosis, alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency, tyrosinemia, porphyria cutanea tarda, acute intermittent porphyria, Wilson's disease) associated with the development of HCC have been identified from epidemiological studies. The diagnosis is usually based on a combination of clinical and laboratory findings together with radiographic and histopathologic characteristics. HCC remains difficult to treat with a median survival of 3 to 6 months after the onset of symptoms. Surgical resection is the mainstay of treatment for HCC. Transcatheter arterial embolization and percutaneous ethanol injection have been used but neither therapy has been evaluated in a prospective randomized study. Combination treatment (e.g. chemotherapy and resection) may be of value but randomized controlled trials with long-term follow-up are still needed. Liver transplantation should be reserved for carefully selected patients.