The regenerative capability of liver is well known, and the mechanisms that regulate liver regeneration are extensively studied. Such analyses have defined general principles that govern the hepatic regenerative response and implicated specific extracellular and intracellular signals as regulated during and essential for normal liver regeneration. Nevertheless, the most proximal events that stimulate liver regeneration and the distal signals that terminate this process remain incompletely understood. Recent data suggest that the metabolic response to hepatic insufficiency might be the proximal signal that initiates regenerative hepatocellular proliferation. This review provides an overview of the data in support of a metabolic model of liver regeneration and reflects on the clinical implications and areas for further study suggested by these findings.