The classifications of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) currently used are based on prognostic factors obtained from studies performed years ago when most tumors were diagnosed at advanced stages and the survival rates were substantially poor. Recent investigations have reviewed the survival of early tumors properly selected to receive radical therapies and the natural outcome of nonsurgical HCC patients. These data enable a new staging system to be proposed, the Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) staging classification, that comprises four stages that select the best candidates for the best therapies currently available. Early stage (A) includes patients with asymptomatic early tumors suitable for radical therapies--resection, transplantation or percutaneous treatments. Intermediate stage (B) comprises patients with asymptomatic multinodular HCC. Advanced stage (C) includes patients with symptomatic tumors and/or an invasive tumoral pattern (vascular invasion/extrahepatic spread). Stage B and C patients may receive palliative treatments/new agents in the setting of phase II investigations or randomized controlled trials. End-stage disease (D) contain patients with extremely grim prognosis (Okuda stage III or PST 3-4) that should merely receive symptomatic treatment.