Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) represents one of the most common neoplasms worldwide. To date, curative treatment options include liver transplantation or resection. Unfortunately, most patients are detected with nonresectable or -transplantable HCC due to disease extension or comorbid factors, and are therefore candidates only for palliative treatments. Palliative medical treatments, including systemic chemotherapy, immunotherapy or hormonal manipulation, have a borderline activity on HCC and cannot be recommended outside clinical trials. A high response rate has been reported with local therapies such as transcatheter arterial embolisation, intra-arterial chemotherapy or percutaneous alcohol (ethanol) injection, but as there is no clear evidence of a survival advantage for these treatment modalities, further investigations are required. Multidisciplinary treatment, including preoperative cytoreduction or postoperative adjuvant therapy, is currently under investigation, with encouraging survival results. HCC patients should be evaluated within clinical trials, possibly randomised and with homogeneous prognostic factors, in order that we may find the answer to all these important questions.