Aim To evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in cirrhotic patients undergoing liver transplantation. Secondary aims were to examine the effect of radiologist experience and lesion size on diagnostic accuracy. Materials and methods Thirty-nine patients (72% male with a mean age of 56.5 years) underwent liver transplantation following preoperative triple-phase MDCT examination of the liver. MDCT examinations were retrospectively independently reviewed by three radiologists for the presence and location of suspected HCCs, with the diagnostic confidence recorded using a five-point confidence scale. MDCT examinations were compared with explant specimens for histopathological correlation. Results Histopathological results demonstrated 46 HCCs in 29 of the 39 patients. Analysis demonstrated a sensitivity of 65–75% and specificity of 47–88% for detection of HCC lesions. The sensitivity dropped to 48–57% for lesions of size ≤20 mm. As the diagnostic confidence increased, there was a further decrease in the sensitivity (4–26%). The radiologist with the greatest number of years experience was found to have a significantly higher accuracy of detection of HCC lesions compared with the least experienced radiologist. Conclusion Larger lesion size of HCC and greater number of years experience of the radiologist resulted in significantly higher accuracy of HCC lesion detection. The overall sensitivity and specificity results for MDCT detection of HCC are comparable to previous helical CT imaging.