The matricellular protein CCN1 (formerly named CYR61) regulates cell adhesion, migration, proliferation, survival, and differentiation through binding to integrin receptors and heparan sulfate proteoglycans. Here we show that Ccn1-null mice are impaired in cardiac valvuloseptal morphogenesis, resulting in severe atrioventricular septal defects (AVSD). Remarkably, haploinsufficiency for Ccn1 also results in delayed formation of the ventricular septum in the embryo and persistent ostium primum atrial septal defects (ASD) in approximately 20% of adults. Mechanistically, Ccn1 is not required for epithelial-to-mesenchymal transformation or cell proliferation and differentiation in the endocardial cushion tissue. However, Ccn1 deficiency leads to precocious apoptosis in the atrial junction of the cushion tissue and impaired gelatinase activities in the muscular component of the interventricular septum at embryonic day 12.5, when fusion between the endocardial cushion tissue and the atrial and ventricular septa occurs, indicating that these defects may underlie the observed AVSD. Moreover, human CCN1 maps to 1p21-p31, the chromosomal location of an AVSD susceptibility gene. Together, these results provide evidence that deficiency in matrix signaling can lead to autosomal dominant AVSD, identify Ccn1(+/-) mice as a genetic model for ostium primum ASD, and implicate CCN1 as a candidate gene for AVSD in humans.