Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the second cause of cancer death in China, is responsible for 130,000 deaths every year. However, as a result of efforts in early detection and small HCC resection, re-resection for subclinical recurrence, cytoreduction and second-stage resection for unresectable HCC, and aggressive palliative surgery other than resection (hepatic artery ligation/cannulation, cryosurgery, etc.), and encouraging improvemental of long-term survival of inpatients has been observed in the authors' institution. In the entire series of 2672 HCC inpatients, the 5-year survival was 4.8% in 1958-70, 12.2% in 1971-83, and 46.7% in 1984-95. The 5-year survival rates were: 61.3% for small HCC resection (n = 645), 33.6% for large HCC resection (n = 950), 48.9% for re-resection (n = 147) calculated from the first resection, 67.9% for second-stage resection (n = 73), and 19.8% for palliative surgery (n = 574, including 73 with second-stage resection). By 1995, 239 HCC patients survived for more than 5 years. Recurrence and metastasis remained the major obstacles to more prolonged survival after HCC surgery. Molecular studies of HCC invasiveness, experimental intervention in the newly established highly metastatic model of human HCC in nude mice in the authors' institution have also been delineated. It is concluded that early detection and small HCC resection remain the major approach to improve survival. Aggressive surgical treatment, such as re-resection and second-stage resection, are also important, and invasiveness-related recurrence will be the next target to be studied.