BACKGROUND: In hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the frequency of p53 mutation and the association with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection varies with geographic locations and risk factors. The aim of this study was to determine the frequency of codon 249 mutation of p53, p53 overexpression, and HBV DNA positivity and to observe the relationship between them in Korean HCC. METHODS: We analyzed overexpression of p53 in hepatoma tissue from 17 HCC patients by immunohistochemistry (IHC), specific mutations at the third base position of codon 249 by PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) method, and presence of HBV by nested PCR. RESULTS: Although a point mutation at codon 250 was seen in one (5.8%) of 17 patients, no codon 249 mutations were found in the patient cohort. The p53 protein was overexpressed in 4 (23.5%) of 17 HCCs. PCR for HBV DNA from HCCs showed a positivity rate of 82.4% (14 of 17 specimens). CONCLUSION: In HCC of this study, HBV infection was not associated with either 249 mutation or overexpression of p53, and overexpression of p53 protein seemed to be related to other than this mutation.