Objectives Thermal ablation (TA) is an established treatment for early HCC. There is a lack of data on the efficacy of repeated TA for recurrent HCC, resulting in uncertainty whether good oncologic outcomes can be obtained without performing orthotopic liver transplantation (OLTx). This study analyses outcomes after TA, with a special focus on repeat TA for recurrent HCC, either as a stand-alone therapy, or in relationship with OLTx. Methods Data from a prospectively registered database on interventions for HCC in a tertiary hepatobiliary centre was completed with follow-up until December 2020. Outcomes studied were rate of recurrence after primary TA and after its repeat interventions, the occurrence of untreatable recurrence, OS and DSS after primary and repeat TA, and complications after TA. In cohorts matched for confounders, OSS and DSS were compared after TA with and without the intention to perform OLTx. Results After TA, 100 patients (56 center dot 8%) developed recurrent HCC, of whom 76 (76 center dot 0%) underwent up to four repeat interventions. During follow-up, 76 center dot 7% of patients never developed a recurrence unamenable to repeat TA or OLTx. OS was comparable after primary TA and repeat TA. In matched cohorts, OS and DSS were comparable after TA with and without the intention to perform OLTx. Conclusions We found TA to be an effective and repeatable therapy for primary and recurrent HCC. Most recurrences can be treated with curative intent. There are patients who do well with TA alone without ever undergoing OLTx.