This review summarizes the efficacy of the most common therapeutic option for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), partial hepatic resection, taking into account not only its antitumoural effect, but also its consequences on survival. Partial hepatic resection results in 5 year survival rates as high as 45% in more favourable subgroups having: small tumours, well-differentiated tumours, unifocal tumours, a lack of vascular invasions, an absence of cirrhosis, and the nbrolamellar variant. Resection has been limited primarily by low resectability rates and recurrent disease. However, surgical resection in the form of partial hepatectomy is the preferred treatment for HCC. The early detection of tumours by screening high-risk populations is crucial. During the 12 year period between 1983 and 1994, hepatic resections were carried out in 382 patients with HCC. One hundred and fifty-three (40%) had HCC smaller than 5 cm in diameter. There were 294 male and 88 female patients, with an average age of 52.3 years. Among them, 45% had liver cirrhosis and 73% were positive for hepatitis B surface antigen. Two hundred and eighteen (57%) were positive for hepatitis C virus circulating antibodies (since 1991). Operative mortality was 3.9%. The overall survival rates at 1, 3 and 5 years were 71, 52 and 46%, respectively. Sex, cirrhosis, Child's staging, surgical procedure, blood loss, pathological pattern, presence of capsule, surgical margin and DNA ploidy appeared to be factors not related to prognosis. However, α-fetoprotein level, size (whether less than or greater than 5 cm), and vascular invasion were factors which significantly affect survival.