The development and maturation of fruits has received considerable scientific scrutiny because of both the uniqueness of such processes to the biology of plants and the importance of fruit as a significant component of the human diet. Molecular and genetic analysis of fruit development, and especially ripening of fleshy fruits, has resulted in significant gains in knowledge over recent years. Great strides have been made in the areas of ethylene biosynthesis and response, cell wall metabolism, and environmental factors, such as light, that impact ripening. Discoveries made in Arabidopsis in terms of general mechanisms for signal transduction, in addition to specific mechanisms of carpel development, have assisted discovery in more traditional models such as tomato. This review attempts to coalesce recent findings in the areas of fruit development and ripening.