OBJECTIVES: During support with a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), partial reverse remodelling takes place in which fibrosis plays an important role. In this study, we analysed the histological changes and expression of fibrotic markers in patients with advanced heart failure (HF) during continuous-flow LVAD (cf-LVAD) support. METHODS: In 25 patients, myocardial tissue at the time of LVAD implantation (pre-LVAD) was compared with tissue from the explanted left ventricle (post-LVAD). Interstitial fibrosis and cardiomyocyte size were analysed pre-and post-LVAD. Plasma was obtained from all patients before and during LVAD support. Plasma levels, cardiac mRNA and protein expression of brain natriuretic peptide (BNP), galectin-3 (Gal-3), connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), osteopontin (OPN) and transforming growth factor beta-1 were determined. RESULTS: Fibrosis increased during cf-LVAD unloading (P <0.05). Cardiomyocytes elongated (P <0.05), whereas cross-sectional area did not change. BNP, Gal-3, CTGF and OPN were significantly elevated pre-LVAD in comparison with controls. BNP decreased significantly after 1 month of cf-LVAD support (P <0.001) to near-normal levels. Pro-fibrotic markers remained elevated in comparison with controls. CONCLUSIONS: cf-LVAD support is associated with lengthening of cardiomyocytes, without alterations in diameter size. Remarkably, myocardial fibrosis increased as well as circulating pro-fibrotic markers. Whether the morphological changes are a direct effect of reduced pulsatility during cf-LVAD support or due to HF progression requires further investigation.