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Few studies have reported on the clinical characteristics of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) at the time of diagnosis with regard to pre-S and basal core promoter (BCP) mutations. In this study, the clinical features and prognosis of 126 Korean HCC patients were examined with respect to pre-S deletion and BCP mutations of hepatitis B virus. The proportion of HCC patients according to tumor-node-metastasis stage are as follows: 8.7% in stage I, 31% in stage II, 30.2% in stage III, 21.4% in stage IV-A, and 8.7% in stage IV-B. Overall, 40.5% of HCC patients were treated by surgery or ablation, 59.5% by other methods. Patients were divided according to pre-S deletion and BCP mutations (103 without pre-S deletion, 23 with pre-S deletion; 44 without BCP mutation, 82 with BCP mutation). The tumor characteristics and prognosis were evaluated between the groups, including size, number, type, vessel invasion, portal vein thrombosis, and metastasis. No significant difference in tumor characteristics between the HCC patients with pre-S deletion was observed, compared with the HCC patients without pre-S deletion. In contrast, the survival rate was lower in those with pre-S deletion than in those without it (P = 0.024). No difference in tumor characteristics was found in non-BCP and BCP mutation patients. Unlike the pre-S deletion group, no difference was observed in survival rate between the non-BCP and BCP patients. In conclusion, pre-S deletion and BCP mutations did not affect the initial tumor features. However, pre-S deletion was an independent risk factor affecting HCC survival. J. Med. Virol. 83:2088–2095, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.