The manner in which the nodal flow determines the breaking of left–right symmetry during development is a beautiful example of the application of fluid dynamics to developmental biology. Detailed understanding of this crucial developmental process has greatly advanced by the transfer of ideas between these two disciplines. In this article, we review our and others' work on applying fluid dynamics and dynamical systems to the problem of left–right symmetry breaking in vertebrates. Developmental Dynamics 237:3477–3490, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.