In an attempt to elucidate the role of fat-storing cells (FSCs) in liver fibrosis, we investigated the collagen synthesis by FSCs freshly isolated from rats treated with CCl4, with vitamin A, and from untreated rats. FSCs from CCl4-treated rats contained a small number of lipid droplets and an abundant rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER), while those from vitamin A-treated rats showed numerous large lipid droplets and scanty RER. The population doubling times of FSCs isolated from normal, CCl4-treated, and vitamin A-treated rats were 38 +/- 4.3, 24 +/- 2.5, and 48 +/- 6.3 hr, respectively. The rate of collagen synthesis by FSCs from CCl4-treated rats was four- to sixfold enhanced, while collagen synthesis by FSCs from vitamin A-treated rats was suppressed. The ratio of collagen type I to type III produced by FSCs from CCl4 rats was enhanced as compared with control rats (94.7:5.3 vs 87.6:12.4). Therefore, FSCs can be considered to play an important role in the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis.