Better knowledge of the risk factors associated with the appearance of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) could improve the efficacy of surveillance programs. A total of 463 patients aged 40 to 65 years with liver cirrhosis in Child-Pugh class A or B were included in a program of early diagnosis. The predictive value of different risk factors was evaluated using the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox regression model. Thirty-eight patients developed HCC. In the multivariate analysis, 4 variables showed an independent predictive value for the development of HCC: age 55 years or older, antibody to hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV) positivity, prothrombin activity 75% or less, and platelet count less than 75 × 103/mm3. According to the contribution of each of these factors to the final model, a score ranging between 0 and 4.71 points was constructed to allow the division of patients into 2 different risk groups. The low-risk group included those with a score of 2.33 points or less (n = 270; 4 with HCC; cumulative incidence of HCC at 4 years, 2.3%), and the high-risk group included those with a score greater than 2.33 (n = 193; 34 with HCC; cumulative incidence of HCC at 4 years, 30.1%) (P = .0001). In conclusion, a simple score made up of 4 clinical and biological variables allowed us to distinguish 2 groups of cirrhotic patients at high and low risk for the development of HCC. We believe this score can be useful in establishing a subset of cirrhotic patients in whom a surveillance program for early detection of HCC could be unjustified.