Direct reprogramming of fibroblasts into cardiomyocytes by forced expression of cardiomyogenic factors, GMT (GATA4, Mef2C, Tbx5) or GHMT (GATA4, Hand2, Mef2C, Tbx5), has recently been demonstrated, suggesting a novel therapeutic strategy for cardiac repair. However, current approaches are inefficient. Here we demonstrate that pro-fibrotic signalling potently antagonizes cardiac reprogramming. Remarkably, inhibition of pro-fibrotic signalling using small molecules that target the transforming growth factor-β or Rho-associated kinase pathways converts embryonic fibroblasts into functional cardiomyocyte-like cells, with the efficiency up to 60%. Conversely, overactivation of these pro-fibrotic signalling networks attenuates cardiac reprogramming. Furthermore, inhibition of pro-fibrotic signalling dramatically enhances the kinetics of cardiac reprogramming, with spontaneously contracting cardiomyocytes emerging in less than 2 weeks, as opposed to 4 weeks with GHMT alone. These findings provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying cardiac conversion of fibroblasts and would enhance efforts to generate cardiomyocytes for clinical applications.