Research into basic developmental biology has frequently yielded insights into cancer biology. This is particularly true for the Hedgehog (HH) pathway. Activating mutations in the HH pathway cause a subset of sporadic and familial, skin (basal cell carcinoma) and brain (medulloblastoma) tumours. Furthermore, the growth of many human tumours is supported by HH pathway activity in stromal cells. Naturally occurring and synthetic inhibitors of HH signalling show great promise in animal models and in early clinical studies. However, it remains unclear how many cancers will ultimately benefit from these new, molecularly targeted therapies.