Currently, hepatic stellate cells (HSC) are thought to be the major fibrotic precursor cells that transdifferentiate to fibrogenic, extracellular matrix producing myofibroblasts in inflammatory liver tissue upon transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling, whereas hepatocytes are thought to respond with apoptosis to this cytokine. Starting out from in vitro experiments with primary hepatocyte cultures and immortalized AML-12 cells, TGF-β signaling in this cell type was assessed and apoptosis was found to be only a minor effect. Instead, hepatocytes undergo epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT), a physiological process in embryogenesis and of relevance for cancerous cell transformation. In injured liver, however, this process contributes to the promotion of fibrosis. Already after a few days of culture, hepatocytes lose their epithelial honeycomb-like shape towards a fibroblast-like phenotype. We could demonstrate by microarray analysis that stimulation of hepatocytes with TGF-β regulates the expression of genes involved in EMT and fibrosis. Among these were, for example, Snail, a known mediator of EMT, and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), a strong inducer of fibrosis. In a mouse model, hepatocyte-specific overexpression of Smad7 was able to blunt a fibrogenic response after CCl4 intoxication. These results emphasize the dynamic nature of liver fibrosis, challenge the paradigm of HSC as a crucial source of liver myofibroblasts and hint towards a prominent role for hepatocytes in liver fibrogenesis.