Laparoscopic hepatic surgery has recently claimed its place among the minimally invasive techniques. Adequate technologies and experience both in laparoscopy and liver surgery are essential for its correct use. A review of the English literature on this subject is presented and the present state of the art discussed. Various topics are considered: staging, treatment of cystic lesions and treatment of benign and malignant primary and secondary tumours. Over the past five years various groups have published papers regarding case series, mainly concerning hepatic resection. More correct indications for the use of laparoscopy in liver surgery have been defined. In particular, laparoscopy is of great importance in the staging of primary and secondary liver cancer and in the treatment of cystic and benign lesions, mainly of the anterior segments. Less univocal are surgeons' attitudes towards the treatment of primary and secondary liver cancers. Laparoscopic liver surgery is gradually gaining wider and clearer acceptance in the treatment of hepatic lesions, while it has now virtually consolidated its role in the treatment of cystic lesions and in the staging of primary and secondary liver cancer.