HiCIAO is a near-infrared, high contrast instrument which is specifically designed for searches and studies for extrasolar planets and proto-planetary/debris disks on the Subaru 8.2 m telescope. A coronagraph technique and three differential observing modes, i.e., a dual-beam simultaneous polarimetric differential imaging mode, quad-beam simultaneous spectral differential imaging mode, and angular differential imaging mode, are used to extract faint objects from the sea of speckle around bright stars. We describe the instrument performances verified in the laboratory and during the commissioning period. Readout noise with a correlated double sampling method is 15 e- using the Sidecar ASIC controller with the HAWAII-2RG detector array, and it is as low as 5 e- with a multiple sampling method. Strehl ratio obtained by HiCIAO on the sky combined with the 188-actuator adaptive optics system (AO188) is 0.4 and 0.7 in the H and K-band, respectively, with natural guide stars that have R ~ 5 and under median seeing conditions. Image distortion is correctable to 7 milli-arcsec level using the ACS data as a reference image. Examples of contrast performances in the observing modes are presented from data obtained during the commissioning period. An observation for HR 8799 in the angular differential imaging mode shows a clear detection of three known planets, demonstrating the high contrast capability of AO188+HiCIAO.© (2010) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.