Background There is substantial variation in how histologic definitions and scoring systems of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are operationalised. Aim To develop a consensus-based framework for standardising histologic assessment of liver biopsies in clinical trials of NAFLD. Methods An expert panel of 14 liver pathologists and three hepatologists was assembled. Using modified RAND/University of California Los Angeles appropriateness methodology, 130 items derived from literature review and expert opinion were rated by each panel member on a 1-9 scale. Disagreement was defined as >= 5 ratings in the lowest (1-3) and highest (7-9) categories. Items were classified as inappropriate (median 1-3.5 without disagreement), uncertain (median 3.5-6.5 or any median with disagreement) or appropriate (median 6.5-9 without disagreement). Survey results were discussed as a group before voting. Results Current measures of disease activity and fibrosis may not fully capture important features of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Alternative methods to evaluate ballooning degeneration are needed. Panellists were uncertain whether portal inflammation, degree of steatosis and Mallory-Denk bodies are important measures of disease activity. Furthermore, it was felt that current staging systems do not capture the full spectrum of fibrosis in NASH. A consensus definition and sub-stages for bridging fibrosis are needed. The severity of perisinusoidal fibrosis should be captured at all stages. Lastly, a method to evaluate features of fibrosis regression should be developed. Conclusion The operating properties of the modifications proposed should be evaluated prospectively to determine reliability and responsiveness.