OBJECTIVE : Liver cirrhosis (LC) is considered to be the end stage of chronic hepatopathies which may lead to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Glypican-3 is one of the most promising serum markers for HCC. Abnormal expression of miRNAs may participate in cancer development and progression. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the relation between the expression of miR-1291 and GPC3 production as a non-invasive tool to differentiate patients with LC and HCC. METHODS : HCV patients (100) were divided into two groups; HCC (I) and LC (II). Fifty hepatitis-free subjects served as the control group (III). Expression of serum GPC3 was performed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and expression of circulating miR-1291 was performed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). RESULTS : Serum levels of GPC3 were significantly elevated in patients with HCC compared with the LC group. Both groups have increased GPC3 levels in relation to healthy controls. Serum GPC3 levels with a cutoff value of 619.5 pg/ml had a 50% sensitivity and 89.3% specificity while alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) with a cutoff value of 8.5 ng/ml had a higher sensitivity (87.5%) and specificity (100%) in the detection of HCC. The primary use of both markers improved the specificity to 100%. miR-1291 was significantly upregulated in HCC and LC patients compared with control subjects. CONCLUSIONS : Our findings might indicate that miR-1291 exert oncogenic effects in hepatic carcinogenesis through positive regulation of GPC3 expression. We propose that GPC3 overexpression and its associated oncogenic effects are linked to the upregulation of miR-1291 in HCV patients.