The sarcomeric proteins represent the structural building blocks of heart muscle, which are essential for contraction and relaxation. During recent years, it has become evident that posttranslational modifications of sarcomeric proteins, in particular phosphorylation, tune cardiac pump function at rest and during exercise. This delicate, orchestrated interaction is also influenced by mutations, predominantly in sarcomeric proteins, which cause hypertrophic or dilated cardiomyopathy. In this review, we follow a bottom-up approach starting from a description of the basic components of cardiac muscle at the molecular level up to the various forms of cardiac disorders at the organ level. An overview is given of sarcomere changes in acquired and inherited forms of cardiac disease and the underlying disease mechanisms with particular reference to human tissue. A distinction will be made between the primary defect and maladaptive/adaptive secondary changes. Techniques used to unravel functional consequences of disease-induced protein changes are described, and an overview of current and future treatments targeted at sarcomeric proteins is given. The current evidence presented suggests that sarcomeres not only form the basis of cardiac muscle function but also represent a therapeutic target to combat cardiac disease.