Mutant p53 has been found in a wide variety of human malignancies including carcinomas of the lung, breast and colon. Because of the controversial mutational rate of the p53 gene in hepatocellular carcinoma, a large series of liver tumors from white patients with different risk factors was examined immunohistochemically for expression of the p53 mutant to assess its prevalence and the relationships between p53 overexpression and clinicopathological data. Nine of 58 specimens were found to have detectable evidence of p53 gene mutation by virtue of the immunohistochemical detection of mutant p53 protein. The p53 mutation was more frequent in patients with serological hepatitis B and C markers than in patients without these markers (p = 0.046). The prevalence of p53-positive tumors was also significantly higher in the group of tumors with invaded portal branches than in the group without (p = 0.02). Our results showed that p53-positive hepatocellular carcinoma is a rare finding in patients exposed to a low dietary aflatoxin intake and that p53 mutation seems to occur at a late stage of the tumoral process and could contribute to an aggressive tumoral phenotype. (HEPATOLOGY 1992;16:1171–1175.)