In fibroblasts, thrombin induces collagen deposition through activation of a G-protein-coupled receptor, proteinase-activated receptor 1 (PAR(1)). In the current study, we examined whether PAR(1) antagonism inhibits hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activation in vitro and whether it protects against fibrosis development in a rodent model of cirrhosis. A rat HSC line was used for in vitro studies whereas cirrhosis was induced by bile duct ligation (BDL). The current results demonstrated that HSCs express PAR(1), as well as proteinase-activated receptors 2 (PAR(2)) and 4 (PAR(4)), and that all three PARs were up-regulated in response to exposure to growth factor in vitro. Exposure to thrombin and to SFLLRN-(SF)-NH(2), a PAR(1) agonist, and GYPGKF (GY)-NH(2), a PAR(4) agonist, triggered HSC proliferation and contraction, as well as monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) production and collagen I synthesis and release. These effects were inhibited by the PAR(1) antagonist. Administration of this antagonist, 1.5 mg/kg/d, to BDL rats reduced liver type I collagen messenger RNA (mRNA) expression and surface collagen by 63%, as measured by quantitative morphometric analysis. Similarly, hepatic and urinary excretion of hydroxyproline was reduced significantly by the PAR(1) antagonist. In conclusion, PAR(s) regulates HSC activity; development of PAR antagonists might be a feasible therapeutic strategy for protecting against fibrosis in patients with chronic liver diseases.