The shortage of donor livers considered suitable for transplantation has driven the development of novel methods for organ preservation and reconditioning. Machine perfusion techniques can improve the quality of marginal livers, extend the time for which they can be preserved and enable an objective assessment of their quality and viability. These benefits can help avoid the needless wastage of organs based on hypothetical concerns regarding quality. As machine perfusion techniques are gaining traction in clinical practice, attention has now shifted to their potential applications beyond transplantation. As well as providing an update on the current status of machine perfusion in clinical practice, this Perspective discusses how this technology is being used as a tool for therapeutic interventions including defatting of steatotic livers, immunomodulation and gene therapies. © 2022, Springer Nature Limited.