Neural crest cells (NCCs) contribute to many organs and tissues during embryonic development. Amongst these, the cardiovascular system represents a fascinating example. In this review, recent advances in our understanding of the developmental biology and molecular genetics regulating cardiac NCC maturation will be summarized. While the existence of a significant neural crest (NC) contribution to the developing heart has been appreciated for more than 20 years, only in the last few years have molecular pathways regulating this process been elucidated and the significant contribution of these mechanisms to the etiology of congenital heart disease in man become apparent. Emerging data suggest that ongoing studies will reveal complex inductive interactions between cardiac NC and a series of other cell types contributing to the developing cardiovascular system.