Angiotensin II (Ang II) promotes hepatic fibrosis by increasing extracellular matrix (ECM) synthesis. Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of hepatic fibrosis and emerges as downstream of the profibrogenic cytokine transforming growth factor- β (TGF- β). We aimed to investigate the molecular events that lead from the Ang II receptor to CTGF upregulation in human hepatic stellate cells, a principal fibrogenic cell type. Ang II produced an early, AT 1 receptor-dependent stimulation of CTGF expression and induced a rapid activation of PKC and its downstream p38 MAPK, thereby activating a nuclear factor- κB (NF- κB) and Smad2/3 cross-talk pathway. Chemical blockade of NF- κB and Smad2/3 signaling synergistically diminished Ang II-mediated CTGF induction and exhibited an additive effect in abrogating the ECM accumulation caused by Ang II. Furthermore, we demonstrated that CTGF expression was essential for Ang II-mediated ECM synthesis. Interestingly, the ability of dephosphorylated, but not phosphorylated JNK to activate Smad2/3 signaling revealed a novel role of JNK in Ang II-mediated CTGF overexpression. These results suggest that Ang II induces CTGF expression and ECM accumulation through a special TGF- β-independent interaction between the NF- κB and Smad2/3 signals elicited by the AT 1/PKC α/p38 MAPK pathway.