Patients with cancer recurrence limited to the liver alone after a first liver resection may be candidates for a repeat resection. Some 191 second and ten third liver resections for recurrent colorectal metastases, and 128 second and ten third liver resections for recurrent hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), were evaluated after reviewing the literature. The 5-year survival rate after second liver resection for colorectal metastases was 26 per cent with a median survival time of 30 months. Mortality and morbidity rates were 1·2 and 27·4 per cent respectively. The 5-year survival rate after second resection for HCC was 40 per cent with a median survival time of 40 months. The operative mortality rate was 2·3 per cent; morbidity occurred in 13 per cent of patients with HCC. Survival after primary colorectal resection was significantly better for patients with metachronous metastases than for those with synchronous disease; survival correlated with a long interval between the first and second liver resection (in both colorectal liver cancer and HCC). Repeated liver resection may be performed in selected patients and yield a similar survival to that obtained after first liver resection.