Upward trends in mortality from hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) were recently reported in the United States and Japan. Comprehensive analyses of most recent data for European countries are not available. Age-standardized (world standard) HCC rates per 100,000 (at all ages, at age 20-44, and age 45-59 years) were computed for 23 European countries over the period 1980-2004 using data from the World Health Organization. Joinpoint regression analysis was used to identify significant changes in trends, and annual percent change were computed. Male overall mortality from HCC increased in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and other western countries, while it significantly decreased over recent years in countries such as France and Italy, which had large upward trends until the mid-1990s. In the early 2000s, among countries allowing distinction between HCC and other liver cancers, the highest HCC rates in men were in France (6.8/100,000), Italy (6.7), and Switzerland (5.9), whereas the lowest ones were in Norway (1.0), Ireland (0.8), and Sweden (0.7). In women, a slight increase in overall HCC mortality was observed in Spain and Switzerland, while mortality decreased in several other European countries, particularly since the mid-1990s. In the early 2000s, female HCC mortality rates were highest in Italy (1.9/100,000), Switzerland (1.8), and Spain (1.5) and lowest in Greece, Ireland, and Sweden (0.3). In most countries, trends at age 45-59 years were consistent with overall ones, whereas they were more favorable at age 20-44 years in both sexes. CONCLUSION: HCC mortality remains largely variable across Europe. Favorable trends were observed in several European countries mainly over the last decade, particularly in women and in young adults.