Hepatic ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) limits access to transplantation. Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is a powerful antioxidant enzyme which degrades free heme into biliverdin, free iron and carbon monoxide. HO-1 and its metabolites have the ability to modulate a wide variety of inflammatory disorders including hepatic IRI. Mechanisms of this protective effect include reduction of oxygen free radicals, alteration of macrophage and T cell phenotype. Further work is required to understand the physiological importance of the many actions of HO-1 identified experimentally, and to harness the protective effect of HO-1 for therapeutic potential.