Chronic kidney disease is associated with progressive kidney fibrosis, which disrupts normal kidney function. There is a great need for treatments to reduce renal fibrosis. In this issue of the JCI, Ito and colleagues report the development of synthetic ligands of the vitamin D receptor that target the TGF-β–SMAD signaling pathway, which is known to regulate fibrosis-associated gene expression, without inducing VDR-associated genes. These ligands ameliorated renal fibrosis in two different mouse models. This study justifies further investigation of these and related compounds for treatment of humans with chronic kidney disease or other diseases characterized by fibrosis.