Polymorphisms in cytokine genes responsible for inflammatory and immune responses are associated with risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in high-risk Chinese population. Similar data in low-risk populations are lacking. A population-based case-control study of HCC was conducted including 120 HCC patients and 230 matched control subjects of non-Asian residents in Los Angeles County, California. Genetic variants in the interferon γ (IFNγ), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα), interleukin-2 (IL-2), IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, IL-12 and IL-18 genes were determined by Taqman assays. The logistic regression method was used to analyze the data. For T helper (Th) 1 genes (IFNγ, IL-6 and IL-12), relative to the putative high-activity genotypes, individual low-activity genotypes were associated with statistically non-significant increases in HCC risk. The odds ratio (OR) was 1.53 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.53-4.39] for three versus zero low-activity genotypes. For Th2 cytokines (IL-4 and IL-10), low- versus high-activity genotypes were associated with statistically non-significant decreases in HCC risk. The OR was 0.64 (95% CI = 0.27-1.55) for two versus zero low-activity genotypes. When the Th1 and Th2 genotypes were examined simultaneously, the highest level of risk was observed in individuals jointly possessing the highest number of low-activity Th1 genotypes and the lowest number of low-activity Th2 genotypes. There was a roughly doubling of risk between these two extreme genetic profiles, which did not reach statistical significance (OR = 1.98, 95% CI = 0.50-7.84, P = 0.08). In contrast to high-risk Chinese, Th1 and Th2 genotypes did not impact in a major way on risk of HCC in USA non-Asians.