For years, biomechanical engineers have studied the physical forces involved in morphogenesis of the heart. In a parallel stream of research, molecular and developmental biologists have sought to identify the molecular pathways responsible for embryonic heart development. Recently, several studies have shown that these two avenues of research should be integrated to explain how genes expressed in the heart regulate early heart function and affect physical morphogenetic steps, as well as to conversely show how early heart function affects the expression of genes required for morphogenesis. This review combines the perspectives of biomechanical engineering and developmental biology to lay out an integrated view of the role of mechanical forces in heart development. Developmental Dynamics 233:373–381, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.