Des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin (DCP) levels reportedly correlate with histological features of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We examined serum DCP as a predictor of HCC recurrence in 144 patients who underwent living donor liver transplantation. Receiver operating characteristics (ROC) analysis revealed superiority of DCP and AFP over preoperative tumor size or number for predicting recurrence. Multivariate analysis revealed tumor size >5 cm, ≥11 nodules, and DCP >400 mAU/mL as significant independent risk factors for recurrence. Incidence of microvascular invasion (62% vs. 27%, p = 0.0003) and poor differentiation (38% vs. 16%, p = 0.0087) were significantly higher for patients with DCP >400 mAU/mL than for patients with DCP ≤400 mAU/mL. In ROC analysis for patients with ≤10 nodules all ≤5 cm to predict recurrence, area under the curve was much higher for DCP than for AFP (0.84 vs. 0.69). Kyoto criteria were thus defined as ≤10 nodules all ≤5 cm, and DCP ≤400 mAU/mL. The 5-year recurrence rate for 28 patients beyond-Milan but within-Kyoto criteria was as excellent as that for 78 patients within-Milan criteria (3% vs. 7%). The preoperative DCP level offers additional information regarding histological features, and thus can greatly improve patient selection criteria when used with tumor bulk information.