© 2015, The Author(s). Markov logic networks (MLNs) are a well-known statistical relational learning formalism that combines Markov networks with first-order logic. MLNs attach weights to formulas in first-order logic. Learning MLNs from data is a challenging task as it requires searching through the huge space of possible theories. Additionally, evaluating a theory’s likelihood requires learning the weight of all formulas in the theory. This in turn requires performing probabilistic inference, which, in general, is intractable in MLNs. Lifted inference speeds up probabilistic inference by exploiting symmetries in a model. We explore how to use lifted inference when learning MLNs. Specifically, we investigate generative learning where the goal is to maximize the likelihood of the model given the data. First, we provide a generic algorithm for learning maximum likelihood weights that works with any exact lifted inference approach. In contrast, most existing approaches optimize approximate measures such as the pseudo-likelihood. Second, we provide a concrete parameter learning algorithm based on first-order knowledge compilation. Third, we propose a structure learning algorithm that learns liftable MLNs, which is the first MLN structure learning algorithm that exactly optimizes the likelihood of the model. Finally, we perform an empirical evaluation on three real-world datasets. Our parameter learning algorithm results in more accurate models than several competing approximate approaches. It learns more accurate models in terms of test-set log-likelihood as well as prediction tasks. Furthermore, our tractable learner outperforms intractable models on prediction tasks suggesting that liftable models are a powerful hypothesis space, which may be sufficient for many standard learning problems.