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To review present knowledge of the influence of hepatic steatosis in liver surgery as derived from experimental and clinical studies.Hepatic steatosis is the most common chronic liver disease in the Western world, and it is associated with obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Fatty accumulation affects hepatocyte homeostasis and potentially impairs recovery of steatotic livers after resection. This is reflected clinically in increased mortality and morbidity after liver resection in patients with any grade of steatosis. Because of the epidemic increase of obesity, hepatic steatosis will play an even more significant role in liver surgery.A literature review was performed using MEDLINE and key words related to experimental and clinical studies concerning steatosis.Experimental studies show the increased vulnerability of steatotic livers to various insults, attributed to underlying metabolic and pathologic derangements induced by fatty accumulation. In clinical studies, the severity of steatosis has an important impact on patient outcome and mortality. Even the mildest form of steatosis increases the risk of postoperative complications.Hepatic steatosis is a major factor determining patient outcome after surgery. Further research is needed to clarify the clinical relevance of all forms and severity grades of steatosis for patient outcome. Standardized grading and diagnostic methods need to be used in future clinical trials to be able to compare outcomes of different studies.