To clarify the effect of preoperative transcatheter arterial oily chemoembolization (TAOE) for resectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) on long-term survival after curative resection, we retrospectively evaluated 60 patients with and 68 patients without preoperative TAOE. Although there was no substantial difference in the clinical backgrounds between the two groups, the 5-year survival rate was lower for the patients with preoperative TAOE than for those without TAOE: 24% versus 63%, respectively (p < 0.05). A worse survival rate was particularly observed for the cirrhotic patients with TAOE than for those without TAOE: 35% and 72% at 4 years, respectively (p < 0.01). As the cause of death, liver failure and gastrointestinal bleeding were more frequent in the patients with TAOE (13.3% versus 1.5%;p < 0.05). Although the TAOE seemed to retard intrahepatic recurrence during the first 1.5 years after operation (1.7% versus 10.3%;p < 0.05), the overall cancer death rate was similar between the two groups (18.3% versus 11.8%). Therefore we suggest that preoperative TAOE must not be performed for resectable HCC as a routine procedure, particularly in patients with cirrhosis. A prospective randomized trial is warranted to elucidate the merits and demerits of preoperative TAOE for surgically resectable HCC.