Acute liver failure is a life-threatening condition in the absence of liver transplantation option. The aetiology of liver failure is the most important factor determining the probability of native liver recovery and prognosis of the patient. Extracorporeal liver assist devices like MARS (Molecular Adsorbent Recirculating System) may buy time for native liver recovery or serve as bridging therapy to liver transplantation, with reduced risk of cerebral complications. MARS treatment may alleviate hepatic encephalopathy even in patients with a completely necrotic liver. Taking this into account, better prognostic markers than hepatic encephalopathy should be used to assess the need for liver transplantation in acute liver failure.