Alternative activation of alveolar macrophages is linked to fibrosis following exposure to asbestos. The scavenger receptor, macrophage receptor with collagenous structure (MARCO), provides innate immune defense against inhaled particles and pathogens; however, a receptor for asbestos has not been identified. We hypothesized that MARCO acts as an initial signaling receptor for asbestos, polarizes macrophages to a profibrotic M2 phenotype, and is required for the development of asbestos-induced fibrosis. Compared with normal subjects, alveolar macrophages isolated from patients with asbes-tosis express higher amounts of MARCO and have greater profibrotic polarization. Arginase 1 (40-fold) and IL-10 (265-fold) were higher in patients. In vivo, the genetic deletion of MARCO attenuated the profibrotic environment and pulmonary fibrosis in mice exposed to chrysotile. Moreover, alveolar macrophages from MARCO2 mice polarize to an M1 phenotype, whereas wild-type mice have higher Ym1 (>3.0-fold) and nearly 7-fold more active TGF-b1 in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid (BALF). Arg and Arg in domain V of MARCO are required for the polarization of macrophages to a profibrotic phenotype as mutation of these residues reduced FIZZ1 expression (17-fold) compared with cells expressing MARCO. These observations demonstrate that a macrophage membrane protein regulates the fibrotic response to lung injury and suggest a novel target for therapeutic intervention.