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In response to skeletal muscle injury, distinct cellular pathways are activated to repair the damaged tissue. Activation and restriction of these pathways must be temporally coordinated in a precise sequence as regeneration progresses if muscle integrity and homeostasis are to be restored. However, if tissue injury persists, as in severe muscular dystrophies, the repair process becomes uncontrolled leading to the substitution of myofibers by a non-functional mass of fibrotic tissue. In this review, we provide an overview of how muscle responds to damage and aging, with special emphasis on the cellular effectors and the regulatory and inflammatory pathways that can shift normal muscle repair to fibrosis development.