2,3,7,8 Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) and related planar halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons are widespread environmental contaminants and potent developmental toxicants. Hallmarks of embryonic exposure include edema, hemorrhage, and mortality. Recent studies in zebrafish and chicken have revealed direct impairment of cardiac muscle growth that may underlie these overt symptoms. TCDD toxicity is mediated by the aryl hydrocarbon receptor, but downstream targets remain unclear. Oxidative stress and growth factor modulation have been implicated in TCDD cardiovascular toxicity. Gene expression profiling is elucidating additional pathways by which TCDD might act. We review our understanding of the mechanism of TCDD embryotoxicity at morphological and molecular levels.