In the adult, tissue repair after injury is generally compromised by fibrosis, which maintains tissue integrity with scar formation but does not restore normal architecture and function. The process of regeneration is necessary to replace the scar and rebuild normal functioning tissue. Here, we address this problem in the context of heart disease, and discuss the origins and characteristics of cardiac fibroblasts, as well as the crucial role that they play in cardiac development and disease. We discuss the dual nature of cardiac fibroblasts, which can lead to scarring, pathological remodelling and functional deficit, but can also promote heart function in some contexts. Finally, we review current and proposed approaches whereby regeneration could be fostered by interventions that limit scar formation.