PURPOSE: Systemic chemotherapy is the only option for patients with unresectable/metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) who are not candidates for local/regional treatment. However, the response to such treatment and survival are poor, especially in hepatitis B virus (HBV) endemic areas. The aim of this study was to determine the efficacy of cisplatin-based combination chemotherapy and identify a subgroup of advanced HCC patients with favorable responses. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The medical records of all consecutive patients with unresectable/metastatic HCC who received cisplatin-based combination chemotherapy between January 2003 and October 2009 were reviewed. Time to progression (TTP) and overall survival (OS) were determined using Kaplan-Meier analysis. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to identify prognostic factors for TTP and OS. RESULTS: Data for 46 patients were analyzed. First-line chemotherapies consisted of cisplatin-based combination treatment with doxorubicin, fluoropyrimidines and gemcitabine. The response rate for all patients was 4.3%. The median TTP and OS were 1.8 (95%confidence interval [CI], 1.1 to 2.5) and 7.2 (95% CI, 3.0 to 11.5) months, respectively. Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status (PS), Child classification, Cancer of the Liver Italian Program (CLIP) score and portal vein thrombosis (PVT) were identified by univariate analyses as prognostic factors for TTP and OS. ECOG PS (hazard ratio [HR], 4.51; 95% CI, 1.61 to 12.6; p=0.004) and PVT (HR, 2.12; 95% CI, 1.10 to 4.11; p=0.026) were independent prognostic factors for TTP. CONCLUSION: Cisplatin-based combination chemotherapy in patients with advanced HCC has a low response rate and short TTP regardless of the chemotherapy regimen used. Patients with a good ECOG PS and without PVT can be considered candidates for cisplatin-based combination chemotherapy.