Amplification of the ERBB2 gene, which encodes human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), causes the overexpression of a major proliferative driver for a subset of breast and gastric cancers. Treatments for patients with HER2-positive cancer include the monoclonal antibody trastuzumab and, in the case of metastatic breast cancer, the tyrosine kinase inhibitor lapatinib. Despite significant improvement in patient outcome as a result of these therapies, challenges remain. This Review focuses on proposed mechanisms of action and resistance in the context of potential new therapeutic options. Therapeutic approaches currently in development likely will yield additional clinically meaningful improvements for patients with HER2-positive cancer.