The HER-2/neu proto-oncogene encodes a 185 kDa transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinase with significant sequence homology to other members of the class I receptor tyrosine kinase family. The HER-2/neu gene is amplified and/or overexpressed in 25%-30% of human breast and ovarian cancers, and overexpression of the receptor is associated with poor prognosis. Tyrosine phosphorylation and activation of the HER-2 receptor lead to activation of specific signal transduction pathways in breast and ovarian cancer cells, including the ras/MAP kinase cascade, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, and phospholipase C-gamma. HER-2/neu signal transduction pathways ultimately converge on the cell nucleus, where the expression of diverse genes is induced after activation of the receptor. A more complete understanding of HER-2/neu signal transduction pathways may allow the development of specific therapeutics for the treatment of those human breast and ovarian cancers containing this alteration.