Renal fibrosis is the inevitable consequence of an excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix that occurs in virtually every type of chronic kidney disease. The pathogenesis of renal fibrosis is a progressive process that ultimately leads to end-stage renal failure, a devastating disorder that requires dialysis or kidney transplantation. In a simplistic view, renal fibrosis represents a failed wound-healing process of the kidney tissue after chronic, sustained injury. Several cellular pathways, including mesangial and fibroblast activation as well as tubular epithelial-mesenchymal transition, have been identified as the major avenues for the generation of the matrix-producing cells in diseased conditions. Among the many fibrogenic factors that regulate renal fibrotic process, transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) is one that plays a central role. Although defective matrix degradation may contribute to tissue scarring, the exact action and mechanisms of the matrix-degrading enzymes in the injured kidney have become increasingly complicated. Recent discoveries on endogenous antifibrotic factors have evolved novel strategies aimed at antagonizing the fibrogenic action of TGF-beta/Smad signaling. Many therapeutic interventions appear effective in animal models; however, translation of these promising results into humans in the clinical setting remains a daunting task. This mini-review attempts to highlight the recent progress in our understanding of the cellular and molecular pathways leading to renal fibrosis, and discusses the challenges and opportunities in developing therapeutic strategies.