Acute liver failure (ALF) is a syndrome defined by coa gulopathy and encephalopathy and no effective treatments have been established, except for liver transplantation. However, considering the limited supply of donors, we should endeavor to prevent the progression of this syndrome in its early stage to improve the prognosis of patients with ALF. Recently, several authors have reported that over-activation of intrahepatic macrophages plays an important role in the progression of ALF and we have developed a new treatment method, transcatheter arterial steroid injection therapy (TASIT), to suppress macrophage activation. We have now used TASIT for 5 years and have found that TASIT is effective for patients with over-activation of macrophages in the liver but not for those with lesser activation of macrophages. Therefore, to identify the most appropriate patients for TASIT, we tried to categorize patients with ALF or acute liver injury according to markers for the degree of intrahepatic macrophage activation. This approach was helpful to select the appropriate treatment including liver transplantation. We believe that it is essential to analyze disease progression in each patient before selecting the most appropriate treatment. © 2010 Baishideng.