Hepatocellular cancer (HCC) is the fifth most common cause of cancer worldwide and its incidence is increasing as a result of the dissemination of hepatitis B and C virus infection. Surgical resection and liver transplantation are considered the only cures for HCC, but benefit approximately 10-15% of patients. In addition, radiofrequency ablation may is potentially curative for patients' with small HCC. Some patients with unresectable disease confined to the liver may benefit from embolisation or chemoembolisation. In the presence of disease not amenable to loco-regional therapy, median survival is only a few months. Current systemic therapy with cytotoxic chemotherapy induces relatively few responses and has no clear survival benefit. Current interest is focussed on the potential role of targeted therapies based on the key aspects of molecular pathogenesis of HCC, most notably sorafenib, an oral multikinase inhibitor. Recent developments discussed in this article demonstrate the potential benefits of this drug which seems destined to become first-line therapy for advanced HCC.