Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a fatal age-associated disease that is characterized by progressive and irreversible scarring of the lung. The pathogenesis of IPF is not completely understood and current therapies are limited to those that reduce the rate of functional decline in patients with mild-to-moderate disease. In this context, new therapeutic approaches that substantially improve the survival time and quality of life of these patients are urgently needed. Our incomplete understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms of IPF and the lack of appropriate experimental models that reproduce the key characteristics of the human disease are major challenges. As ageing is a major risk factor for IPF, age-related cell perturbations such as telomere attrition, senescence, epigenetic drift, stem cell exhaustion, loss of proteostasis and mitochondrial dysfunction are becoming targets of interest for IPF therapy. In this Review, we discuss current and emerging therapies for IPF, particularly those targeting age-related mechanisms, and discuss future therapeutic approaches.