Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive fibrotic lung disease that is characterised by aberrant proliferation of activated myofibroblasts and pathological remodelling of the extracellular matrix. Previous studies have revealed that the intermediate filament protein nestin plays key roles in tissue regeneration and wound healing in different organs. Whether nestin plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of IPF needs to be clarified. Nestin expression in lung tissues from bleomycin-treated mice and IPF patients was determined. Transfection with nestin short hairpin RNA vectors in vitro that regulated transcription growth factor (TGF)-β/Smad signalling was conducted. Biotinylation assays to observe plasma membrane TβRI, TβRI endocytosis and TβRI recycling after nestin knockdown were performed. Adeno-associated virus serotype (AAV)6-mediated nestin knockdown was assessed in vivo. We found that nestin expression was increased in a murine pulmonary fibrosis model and IPF patients, and that the upregulated protein primarily localised in lung α-smooth muscle actin-positive myofibroblasts. Mechanistically, we determined that nestin knockdown inhibited TGF-β signalling by suppressing recycling of TβRI to the cell surface and that Rab11 was required for the ability of nestin to promote TβRI recycling. In vivo, we found that intratracheal administration of AAV6-mediated nestin knockdown significantly alleviated pulmonary fibrosis in multiple experimental mice models. Our findings reveal a pro-fibrotic function of nestin partially through facilitating Rab11-dependent recycling of TβRI and shed new light on pulmonary fibrosis treatment.