The heart of higher vertebrates is a structurally complicated multi-chambered pump that contracts synchronously. For its proper function a number of distinct integrated components have to be generated, including force-generating compartments, unidirectional valves, septa and a system in charge of the initiation and coordinated propagation of the depolarizing impulse over the heart. Not surprisingly, a large number of regulating factors are involved in these processes that act in complex and intertwined pathways to regulate the activity of target genes responsible for morphogenesis and function. The finding that mutations in T-box transcription factor-encoding genes in humans lead to congenital heart defects has focused attention on the importance of this family of regulators in heart development. Functional and genetic analyses in a variety of divergent species has demonstrated the critical roles of multiple T-box factor gene family members, including Tbx11, -2, -3, -5, -18 and -20, in the patterning, recruitment, specification, differentiation and growth processes underlying formation and integration of the heart components. Insight into the roles of T-box factors in these processes will enhance our understanding of heart formation and the underlying molecular regulatory pathways.