The establishment of pregnancy requires an intimate physical interaction and a molecular dialogue between the conceptus and the maternal reproductive tract that commences at implantation and continues until the placenta is formed and fully functional. Failure of the regulatory processes that ensure the fidelity of this relationship can precipitate a catastrophic pregnancy loss. One of the earliest identified molecular mediators of blastocyst implantation is heparin-binding epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like growth factor (HBEGF), which signals between the endometrium and implanting trophoblast cells to synchronize their corresponding developmental programs. HBEGF expression by trophoblast cells of the developing placenta appears to regulate extravillous differentiation and provide cytoprotection in a sometimes-hostile environment. This versatile member of the EGF signaling system will be examined in light of its associations with key events during early pregnancy.