Summary. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are an abundant class of small nonprotein-coding RNAs with posttranscriptional regulatory functions as tumour suppressors and oncogenes. Aberrant expression and structural alteration of miRNAs are thought to participate in tumourigenesis and cancer development. It has been suggested that the presence of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in precursor miRNAs (pre-miRNAs) can alter miRNA processing, expression, and/or binding to target mRNA and represent another type of genetic variability that can contribute to the development of human cancers. Recent studies have indicated that the miR-196a-2 rs11614913 (C→T) polymorphism could alter mature miR-196a-2 expression and target mRNA binding. To determine the association of the miR-196a-2 rs11614913 polymorphism with the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development in a Turkish population, a hospital-based case–control study was designed consisting of 185 subjects with HCC and 185 cancer-free control subjects matched for age, gender, smoking and alcohol status. The genotype frequency of the miR-196a-2 rs11614913 polymorphism was determined by using a polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) assay. Our data shows that the CC genotype of the miR-196a-2 rs11614913 polymorphism is associated with increased risk of HCC development in this Turkish population (OR = 2.41, 95% CI: 1.30–4.50, P = 0.005). Furthermore, according to stratified analysis, a significant association was observed between the homozygote CC genotype and HCC risk in the subgroups of male gender (OR = 3.12, 95% CI: 1.53–6.34, P = 0.002) and patients with hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related HCC (OR = 2.88, 95% CI: 1.33–6.22, P = 0.007). Because our results suggest for the first time that the miR-196a-2 rs11614913 polymorphism may be a genetic susceptibility factor for HCC (especially in the male gender and HBV-infected patients) in the Turkish population, further independent studies are required to validate our findings in a larger series, as well as in patients of different ethnic origins.