Hepatocellular carcinoma is one of the most common malignancies worldwide, and its incidence continues to rise in the United States. Partial hepatectomy and liver transplantation remains the mainstay of treatment for localized disease and provides significant improvement in long-term survival, as well as the potential for cure. The indications and criteria for resection and transplantation are well established, but continue to undergo significant modification over time. Surgical resection is the primary therapeutic modality in patients with well-compensated liver disease, and transplantation is highly effective in early-stage tumors in patients with severe underlying liver disease. The relative role for each of these modalities must be tailored to individual patients based on a rational approach designed to balance quality of life, organ allocation, and patient survival.