It is controversial whether past hepatitis B virus infection constitutes an additional risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) among patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV). The incidence of HCC between 1994 and 2004 was analysed among 1262 patients who were only positive for HCV. The cumulative incidence of HCC was assessed by Kaplan-Meier analysis and the difference between two groups was assessed by the log-rank test. The effect of anti-HBc positivity on the risk of HCC was assessed with multivariate Cox proportional analysis. Anti-HBc was positive in 522 (41.4%) patients. The proportion of male patients (56.7 vs 46.8%, P < 0.001) and mean age (60.8 vs 56.9 years, P < 0.001) were significantly higher in the anti-HBc positive group. HCC developed in 339 patients (mean follow-up 7.0 years), with cumulative incidence rates at 3, 5 and 10 years of 12.7, 24.5 and 41.9% in the anti-HBc positive group and 10.6, 17.7 and 33.4% in the negative group, respectively (P = 0.005). However, anti-HBc seropositivity did not reach statistical significance in multivariate analysis including age and gender (hazard ratio, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.85-1.31; P = 0.63). Anti-HBc positivity and HCC incidence were confounded by male gender and older age.