Heart valve disease is a significant cause of mortality worldwide. However, to date, a nonthrombogenic, noncalcific prosthetic, which maintains normal valve mechanical properties and hemodynamic flow, and exhibits sufficient fatigue properties has not been designed. Current prosthetic designs have not been optimized and are unsuitable treatment for congenital heart defects. Research is therefore moving towards the development of a tissue engineered heart valve equivalent. Two approaches may be used in the creation of a tissue engineered heart valve, the traditional approach, which involves seeding a scaffold in vitro, in the presence of specific signals prior to implantation, and the guided tissue regeneration approach, which relies on autologous reseeding in vivo. Regardless of the approach taken, the design of a scaffold capable of supporting the growth of cells and extracellular matrix generation and capable of withstanding the unrelenting cardiovascular environment while forming a tight seal during closure, is critical to the success of the tissue engineered construct. This paper focuses on the quest to design, such a scaffold. (c) 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.