BACKGROUND Hepatic resection (HRE) combined with radiofrequency ablation (RFA) offers a surgical option to a group of patients with multiple and bilobar liver malignancies who are traditionally unresectable for inadequate functional hepatic reserve. The aims of the present study were to assess the perioperative outcomes, recurrence, and long-term survival rates for patients treated with HRE plus RFA in the management of primary hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and metastatic liver cancer (MLC). METHODS Data from all consecutive patients with primary and secondary hepatic malignancies who were treated with HRE combined with RFA between 2007 and 2013 were prospectively collected and retrospectively reviewed. RESULTS A total of 112 patients, with 368 hepatic tumors underwent HRE combined with ultrasound-guided RFA, were included in the present study. There were 40 cases of HCC with 117 tumors and 72 cases of MLC with 251 metastases. Most cases of liver metastases originated from the gastrointestinal tract (44, 61.1%). Other uncommon lesions included breast cancer (5, 6.9%), pancreatic cancer (3, 4.2%), lung cancer (4, 5.6%), cholangiocarcinoma (4, 5.6%), and so on. The ablation success rates were 93.3% for HCC and 96.7% for MLC. The 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-y overall recurrence rates were 52.5%, 59.5%, 72.3%, 75%, and 80% for the HCC group and 44.4%, 52.7%, 56.1%, 69.4%, and 77.8% for the MLC group, respectively. The 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-y overall survival rates for the HCC patients were 67.5%, 50%, 32.5%, 22.5%, and 12.5% and for the MLC patients were 66.5%, 55.5%, 50%, 30.5%, and 19.4%, respectively. The corresponding recurrence-free survival rates for the HCC patients were 52.5%, 35%, 22.5%, 15%, and 10% and for the MLC patients were 58.3%, 41.6%, 23.6%, 16.9%, and 12.5%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS HRE combined with RFA provides an effective treatment approach for patients with primary and secondary liver malignancies who are initially unsuitable for radical resection, with high local tumor control rates and promising survival data.