We have shown that hepatic stellate cells cause the cirrhosis which is characteristic in the congenital bile duct obstructive disease, biliary atresia (Ramm et al, 1998). However, the mechanisms responsible for hepatic stellate cell activation in this condition are not known. Our group leads a multi-centre collaborative project with Dr Darrell Crawford from the Princess Alexandra Hospital, and Dr Peter Lewindon and Professor Ross Shepherd from the Royal Children’s Hospital. This project focuses on the mechanisms whereby bile duct epithelial cells are induced to release the profibrogenic cytokine transforming growth factor-beta (Ramm et al, 1998) which stimulates collagen production and cirrhosis. Further investigations will evaluate the potential aetiology of the fibrotic, obstructive bile duct disease in these children and evaluate the potential for chemoattraction of hepatic stellate cells and inflammatory cells to the site of injury surrounding the bile ducts.