Pirfenidone (5-methyl-1-phenyl-2-(1H)-pyridone) is a novel anti-fibrotic and anti-inflammatory agent that inhibits the progression of fibrosis in animal models and patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Heat shock protein (HSP) 47, a collagen-specific molecular chaperone, is involved in the processing and/or secretion of procollagen and plays an important role in the pathogenesis of IPF. The present study evaluated the in vitro effects of pirfenidone on expression of HSP47 and collagen type I in cultured normal human lung fibroblasts (NHLF). Expression levels of HSP47 and collagen type I in NHLF stimulated by transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1 were evaluated genetically, immunologically and immunocytochemically. Treatment with TGF-beta1 stimulated both mRNA and protein expressions of both HSP47 and collagen type I in NHLF, and pirfenidone significantly inhibited this TGF-beta1-enhanced expression in a dose-dependent manner. We concluded that the anti-fibrotic effect of pirfenidone may be mediated not only through direct inhibition of collagen type I expression but also at least partly through inhibition of HSP47 expression in lung fibroblasts, with a resultant reduction of collagen synthesis in lung fibrosis.