Natriuretic peptides are a family of three structurally related hormone/ paracrine factors. Atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) and B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) are secreted from the cardiac atria and ventricles, respectively. ANP signals in an endocrine and paracrine manner to decrease blood pressure and cardiac hypertrophy. BNP acts locally to reduce ventricular fibrosis. C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) primarily stimulates long bone growth but likely serves unappreciated functions as well. ANP and BNP activate the transmembrane guanylyl cyclase, natriuretic peptide receptor-A (NPR-A). CNP activates a related cyclase, natriuretic peptide receptor-B (NPR-B). Both receptors catalyze the synthesis of cGMP, which mediates most known effects of natriuretic peptides. A third natriuretic peptide receptor, natriuretic peptide receptor-C (NPR-C), clears natriuretic peptides from the circulation through receptor-mediated internalization and degradation. However, a signaling function for the receptor has been suggested as well. Targeted disruptions of the genes encoding all natriuretic peptides and their receptors have been generated in mice, which display unique physiologies. A few mutations in these proteins have been reported in humans. Synthetic analogs of ANP (anaritide and carperitide) and BNP (nesiritide) have been investigated as potential therapies for the treatment of decompensated heart failure and other diseases. Anaritide and nesiritide are approved for use in acute decompensated heart failure, but recent studies have cast doubt on their safety and effectiveness. New clinical trials are examining the effect of nesiritide and novel peptides, like CD-NP, on these critical parameters. In this review, the history, structure, function, and clinical applications of natriuretic peptides and their receptors are discussed.