Background: The prevalence and characteristics of actual 5-year survivors after surgical treatment of hilar cholangiocarcinoma (HC) have not been described previously. Methods: Patients who underwent resection for HC from 2000 to 2015 were analyzed through a multi-institutional registry from 10 U.S. academic medical centers. The clinicopathologic characteristics and both the perioperative and long-term outcomes for actual 5-year survivors were compared with those for non-survivors (patients who died within 5 years after surgery). Patients alive at last encounter who had a follow-up period shorter than 5 years were excluded from the study. Results: The study identified 257 patients with HC who underwent curative-intent resection with an actuarial 5-year survival of 19%. Of 194 patients with a follow-up period longer than 5 years, 23 (12%) were 5-year survivors. Compared with non-survivors, the 5-year survivors had a lower median pretreatment CA 19-9 level (116 vs. 34 U/L; P = 0.008) and a lower rate of lymph node involvement (42% vs. 15%; P = 0.027) and R1 margins (39% vs. 17%; P = 0.042). However, the sole presence of these factors did not preclude a 5-year survival after surgery. The frequencies of bile duct resection alone, major hepatectomy, caudate lobe resection, portal vein or hepatic artery resection, preoperative biliary sepsis, intraoperative blood transfusion, serious postoperative complications, and receipt of adjuvant chemotherapy were comparable between the two groups. Conclusions: One in eight patients with HC reaches the 5-year survival milestone after resection. A 5-year survival can be achieved even in the presence of traditionally unfavorable clinicopathologic factors (elevated CA 19-9, nodal metastasis, and R1 margins).