The proto-oncogene ErbB2 (also known as c-neu or HER2 in humans) encodes a receptor tyrosine kinase that is frequently overexpressed in human tumors. It is the target of a novel and effective antibody-based therapy for malignant mammary tumors (trastuzumab/Herceptin). Biochemical and genetic experiments have shown that ErbB2 acts as a coreceptor for other members of the ErbB family of receptor tyrosine kinases. In particular, signals are transduced by ErbB2/ErbB4, ErbB2/ErbB3, and ErbB2/EGF receptor heteromers. ErbB2/4 and ErbB2/ErbB3 heteromers transmit neuregulin-1 signals in the developing and adult heart, and in the peripheral nervous system, respectively. Of particular medical relevance are recent findings that relied on tissue-specific mutation of ErbB2 in cardiomyocytes, which revealed an essential function of ErbB2 in normal heart physiology and demonstrated that loss of cardiac ErbB2 can cause dilated cardiomyopathy in adult mice. Thus, ErbB2 is important not only in development, but also for the correct functioning of the differentiated myocardium. The conditional ErbB2 mutant mice provide a model for the principal side effects--cardiomyopathy and heart failure--that can be observed in patients undergoing chemotherapy with Trastuzumab.