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The relationship between hepatitis B virus (HBV) and the prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after surgery remains uncertain. A retrospective cohort study was performed to evaluate the impact of pre-S deletions, T1762/A1764, and A1896 mutations on prognosis of HCC after curative resection. A total of 113 patients with positive serum HBV DNA (>200 IU/mL) who had underwent curative resection of pathologically proven HCC were recruited to determine the risk factors affecting the prognosis.The median follow-up time was 36.5 months and recurrence was detected in 67 patients (59.3%). The cumulative recurrence rates and overall survival rates at 1-, 3-, and 5-year after curative resection were 18.0%, 49.7%, 70.3%, and 93.7%, 61.0%, 42.5%, respectively. Patients with pre-S deletions showed significantly higher recurrence rates compared with those with wild type infection (HR: 1.822, P = .018), but not related with a significantly poor survival (HR: 1.388, P = .235). Subgroup analysis indicated that the patients with type III deletion had significant higher tumor recurrence rates than other deletion types (HR: 2.211, 95% confidence intervals [CI]: 1.008–4.846, P = .048). Multivariate analysis revealed that pre-S deletion, tumor size >3 cm in diameter, and the presence of microvascular invasion were independent risk factors for tumor recurrence. HBV pre-S deletions were found to be clustered primarily in the 5′ end of pre-S2 region and were more often found between amino acids 120 and 142 of the pre-S2 domain. The domains most frequently potentially involved were the transactivator domain in pre-S2 and polymerized human serum albumin binding site.Our cohort showed that pre-S deletions at the time of resection could predict tumor recurrence in HCC patients after curative resection.