Myofibroblasts are contractile cells that are characterized by the expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin and mediate the closure of wounds and the formation of collagen-rich scars. Their presence in organs such as lungs, liver, and kidney has long been established as a marker of progressive fibrosis. The transforming growth factor beta(1)-driven differentiation of fibroblasts is a major source of myofibroblasts, and recent data have shown that hyaluronan is a major modulator of this process. This study examines this differentiation mechanism in more detail. Transforming growth factor beta(1)-dependent differentiation to the myofibroblastic phenotype was antagonized by the inhibition of hyaluronan synthesis, confirming that hyaluronan was necessary for differentiation. This response, however, was not reproduced by simply adding hyaluronan to fibroblasts, as the results implicated hyaladherins, as well as the macromolecular assembly of de novo hyaluronan, as essential in this process. We previously suggested that there is a relocalization of lipid-raft components during myofibroblastic differentiation. The present study demonstrates that the hyaluronan receptor CD44, the hyaluronidase HYAL 2, and the transforming growth factor beta(1)-receptor ALK5 all relocalized from raft to non-raft locations, which was reversed by the addition of exogenous hyaluronan. These data highlight a role for endogenous hyaluronan in the mediation of myofibroblastic differentiation. While hyaluronan synthesis was both essential and necessary for differentiation, exogenously provided hyaluronan antagonized differentiation, underscoring a pathological role for hyaluronan in such cell fate processes.