Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD) was delineated as a separate form of muscular dystrophy nearly 40 years ago, based on the distinctive clinical features of early contractures and humero-peroneal weakness, and cardiac conduction defects. The gene, STA at Xq28, for the commoner X-linked EDMD encodes a 34 kD nuclear membrane protein designated 'emerin', and in almost all cases on immunostaining is absent in muscle, skin fibroblasts, leucocytes and even exfoliative buccal cells, and a mosaic pattern in female carriers. The gene, LMNA at 1q21, for the autosomal dominant Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy encodes other nuclear membrane proteins, lamins A/C. The diagnosis (at present) depends on mutation analysis rather than protein immunohistochemistry. It is still not at all clear how defects in these nuclear membrane proteins are related to the phenotype, even less clear that LMNA mutations can also be associated with familial dilated cardiomyopathy with no weakness, and even familial partial lipodystrophy with diabetes mellitus and coronary heart disease! What began as clinical studies in a relatively rare form of dystrophy has progressed to detailed research into the functions of nuclear membrane proteins particularly in regard to various forms of heart disease.