The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a growth factor receptor that induces cell differentiation and proliferation upon activation through the binding of one of its ligands. The receptor is located at the cell surface, where the binding of a ligand activates a tyrosine kinase in the intracellular region of the receptor. This tyrosine kinase phosphorylates a number of intracellular substrates that activates pathways leading to cell growth, DNA synthesis and the expression of oncogenes such as fos and jun. EGFR is thought to be involved the development of cancer, as the EGFR gene is often amplified, and/or mutated in cancer cells. In this review we will focus on: (I) the structure and function of EGFR, (II) implications of receptor/ligand coexpression and EGFR mutations or overexpression, (III) its effect on cancer cells, (IV) the development of the malignant phenotype and (V) the clinical aspects of therapeutic targeting of EGFR.