Fibrosis can occur in tissues in response to a variety of stimuli. Following tissue injury, cells undergo transformation or activation from a quiescent to an activated state resulting in tissue remodelling. The fibrogenic process creates a tissue environment that allows inflammatory and matrix-producing cells to invade and proliferate. While this process is important for normal wound healing, chronicity can lead to impaired tissue structure and function.This review examines the major factors involved in transforming or activating tissues towards fibrosis. The role of genetic variation within individuals affected by fibrosis has not been well described and it is in this context that we have examined the mediators of remodelling, including transforming growth factor-beta, T helper 2 cytokines and matrix metalloproteinases.Finally we examine the role of Toll-like receptors in fibrosis. The inflammatory phenotype that precedes fibrosis has been associated with Toll-like receptor activation. This is particularly important when considering gastrointestinal and hepatic disease, where inappropriate Toll-like receptor signalling, in response to the local microbe-rich environment, is thought to play an important role.