Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a hypervascular tumour, which overexpresses vascular endothelial growth factor. Thalidomide is an antiangiogenic agent with activity in refractory multiple myeloma. The purpose of this multi-centre phase II study was to evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of thalidomide in patients with advanced HCC. From February 2000 to November 2001, 37 patients with histologically proven, bi-dimensionally measurable advanced, unresectable HCC were enrolled. The starting dose of Thalidomide was 100 mg per day and escalated weekly by 100 mg to a maximum dose of 800 mg/day according to individual patient tolerance. Radiological tumour response and treatment related toxicities were prospectively assessed. Thirty-seven patients were evaluable for toxicity and 24 patients were evaluable for response. The median Thalidomide dose was 400 mg/day. There was no complete response (CR). One patient had a radiological partial response (PR) (3%; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0% to 8%) and six (16%) patients had stable disease for more than 6 months. Somnolence and fatigue were the most common side effects, occurring in 84% and 73% of patients respectively. Thalidomide monotherapy is tolerable and associated with modest antitumour activity in advanced HCC.