Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is considered the progressive form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and is characterized by liver steatosis, inflammation, hepatocellular injury and different degrees of fibrosis. A central issue in this field relates to the identification of those factors that trigger inflammation, thus fuelling the transition from nonalcoholic fatty liver to NASH. These triggers of liver inflammation might have their origins outside the liver (such as in adipose tissue or the gut) as well as inside the organ (for instance, lipotoxicity, innate immune responses, cell death pathways, mitochondrial dysfunction and endoplasmic reticulum stress), both of which contribute to NASH development. In this Review, we summarize the currently available information on the key upstream triggers of inflammation in NASH. We further delineate the mechanisms by which liver inflammation is resolved and the implications of a defective pro-resolution process. A better knowledge of these mechanisms should help to design targeted therapies able to halt or reverse disease progression.