Liver regeneration is a complex process involving the crosstalk of multiple cell types, including hepatocytes, hepatic stellate cells, endothelial cells and inflammatory cells. The healthy liver is mitotically quiescent, but following toxic damage or resection the cells can rapidly enter the cell cycle to restore liver mass and function. During this process of regeneration, epithelial and non-parenchymal cells respond in a tightly coordinated fashion. Recent studies have described the interaction between inflammatory cells and a number of other cell types in the liver. In particular, macrophages can support biliary regeneration, contribute to fibrosis remodelling by repressing hepatic stellate cell activation and improve liver regeneration by scavenging dead or dying cells in situ. In this Review, we describe the mechanisms of tissue repair following damage, highlighting the close relationship between inflammation and liver regeneration, and discuss how recent findings can help design novel therapeutic approaches.