Ectopia cordis is a rare congenital defect in which the heart is placed externally on the surface of the chest. This article describes the embrylogic events that lead to the various classifications of the defect and how they possibly explain the process of its unusual occurrence in children. While survival in some cases is possible, the ultimate repair is difficult and survival is rare. The most extreme forms of ectopia cordis, especially those with intracardiac defects, have a poor prognosis. Several cases of this rare anomaly with primary repair and staged repair are discussed.