Congenital heart disease (CHD), cardiomyopathy, and vasculopathies are common causes of mortality and morbidity in pediatrics, including the perinatal period. This article reviews evidence that single gene defects cause many of the pediatric heart diseases. Vasculopathies discussed include Marfan's syndrome, supravalvar aortic stenosis and Williams' syndrome, Alagille's syndrome, and hereditary telangiectasia, the Osler-Weber-Rendu syndrome. Genetic causes of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy caused by sarcomeric protein mutations (β-cardiac myosin heavy chain) and of dilated cardiomyopathy secondary to structural protein deficiencies (dystrophin) are presented. Defects in proteins essential for myocardial energy production such as oxidative phosphorylation proteins and fatty acid oxidation genes that cause cardiomyopathy or sudden death are described. Gene ablation models in mice, such as RXRα and homeobox gene knockouts, which result in cardiac phenotypes resembling human congenital heart disease, are described. Familial types of human CHD which are being investigated for genetic causes by positional cloning methods and known cytogenetic causes of CHD, including the CATCH-22 syndrome and monosomy at 22q11, are presented. General lessons and principles derived from these new and exciting discoveries in human cardiovascular development are surmised.