OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to analyze the factors that influence local recurrence after radiofrequency coagulation of liver tumors. SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: Local recurrence rate varies widely between 2% and 60%. Apart from tumor size as an important risk factor for local recurrence, little is known about the impact of other factors. METHODS: An exhaustive literature search was carried out for the period from January 1, 1990 to January 1, 2004. Only series with a minimal follow-up of 6 months and/or mean follow-up of 12 months were included. Univariate and multivariate meta-analyses were carried out. RESULTS: Ninety-five independent series were included, allowing the analysis of the local recurrence rate of 5224 treated liver tumors. In a univariate analysis, tumor-dependent factors with significantly less local recurrences were: smaller size, neuroendocrine metastases, nonsubcapsular location, and location away from large vessels. Physician-dependent favorable factors were: surgical (open or laparoscopic) approach, vascular occlusion, general anesthesia, a 1-cm intentional margin, and a greater physician experience. In a multivariate analysis, significantly less local recurrences were observed for small size (P < 0.001) and a surgical (versus percutaneous) approach (P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Radiofrequency coagulation by laparoscopy or laparotomy results in superior local control, independent of tumor size. The percutaneous route should mainly be reserved for patients who cannot tolerate a laparoscopy or laparotomy. The short-term benefits of less invasiveness for the percutaneous route do not outweigh the longer-term higher risk of local recurrence.