In mammals, tissue damage is usually repaired by activation of a fibrotic response which saves the life of the organism, but which can never restore function to the damaged organ. In addition, fibrotic responses form the basis for diverse pathologies, including many that occur in the eye. It is intriguing, therefore, to observe the occasional circumstances in which repair in mammals appears to take on a regenerative character, such as during fetal wound healing or in certain types of corneal wounds. The thesis of this chapter is that the choice between regeneration or fibrosis lies in the control of fibroblast phenotype. The cornea of the eye has several features which make it a particularly useful model for the study of fibroblast phenotype. Studies discussed herein, identify failure to activate the transcription factor NF-kappaB as a control mechanism for inhibiting fibroblast activation in the cornea. Evidence is further presented for the view that transition in fibroblast phenotype in repair tissue is not simply a matter of differential gene expression, but is a developmental event which reflects changes in the hard wiring of signalling pathways by which the cell responds to environmental input.