Liver biopsy samples from 40 chronic alcoholic patients, including 9 with minimal changes of the liver, 6 with mild hepatic fibrosis, 14 with moderate fibrosis, and 11 with severe fibrosis (cirrhosis) were studied by electron microscopy to assess fibrogenesis in the Disse space and the role of fat-storing cells in this process. In the Disse space of normal liver, collagen fibers are few, and while lipid droplets containing fat-storing cells exist, their rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) is inconspicuous. In the course of progressive hepatic fibrosis, collagen in the Disse space increased. This was significantly associated with gradual development of RER in fat-storing cells, confirmed by morphometric analysis. It is likely, therefore, that the development of RER in the fat-storing cells is a morphological correlative of their activated fibrogenesis and transformation into fibroblasts. To further clarify this, the rate of collagen synthesis was measured by the method of in vitro incorporation of [3H]proline into collagen in 17 liver biopsy samples from alcoholic patients and compared with the degree of morphological changes of RER in fat-storing cells. In liver samples with well-developed RER in fat-storing cells, a significantly higher rate of collagen synthesis was observed. These results suggest that in alcoholic liver injury, fat-storing cells may play an important role in Disse space fibrogenesis.