In Japan, the presence of a large regenerative nodule within a cirrhotic liver, referred to as a macroregenerative nodule or adenomatous hyperplasia, is thought to play a role in the pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma. These lesions, however, have received little attention outside of Japan. We examined 110 sequentially explanted cirrhotic livers for the presence of such nodules. By gross examination, 19 livers (17.3%) had 40 nodules (10 livers had more than one nodule) between 0.8 and 3.5 cm in diameter. By histological examination, 28 of these were macroregenerative nodules and 12 were hepatocellular carcinomas. Three of these hepatocellular carcinomas, however, appeared to have arisen in association with a macroregenerative nodule. We found that the architectural features of thickened cell plates, formation of trabeculae and loss of reticulin were usually very helpful in differentiating benign macroregenerative nodules from hepatocellular carcinoma. The incidence of macroregenerative nodules in our series was similar to that seen in the Japanese studies, and although we feel that they may play a role in the pathogenesis of carcinoma, we do not believe their presence is necessary for the development of hepatocellular carcinoma.