Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), originally purified from the plasma of patients with fulminant hepatic failure, has been shown to carry out various physiological functions. HGF not only stimulates liver regeneration, but also acts as an antiapoptotic factor in in vivo experimental models. Therefore, HGF is a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of fatal liver diseases, including fulminant hepatic failure. After performing a number of preclinical tests, our group began an investigator-initiated registered phase I/II clinical trial of patients with fulminant hepatic failure to examine the safety and clinical efficacy of recombinant human HGF. In this article, we will discuss the basic research results as well as the translational research that underpins current attempts to use HGF in various clinical settings.