TBX5 is a member of the T-box transcription factor family and is primarily known for its role in cardiac and forelimb development. Human patients with dominant mutations in TBX5 are characterized by Holt-Oram syndrome, and show defects of the cardiac septa, cardiac conduction system, and the anterior forelimb. The range of cardiac defects associated with TBX5 mutations in humans suggests multiple roles for the transcription factor in cardiac development and function. Animal models demonstrate similar defects and have provided a useful platform for investigating the roles of TBX5 during embryonic development. During early cardiac development, TBX5 appears to act primarily as a transcriptional activator of genes associated with cardiomyocyte maturation and upstream of morphological signals for septation. During later cardiac development, TBX5 is required for patterning of the cardiac conduction system and maintenance of mature cardiomyocyte function. A comprehensive understanding of the integral roles of TBX5 throughout cardiac development and adult life will be critical for understanding human cardiac morphology and function.