Fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23) is a hormone with a central role in the regulation of phosphate homeostasis. This regulation is accomplished by the coordinated modulation of renal phosphate handling, vitamin D metabolism and parathyroid hormone secretion. Patients with kidney disease have increased circulating levels of FGF23 and in other patient populations and in healthy individuals, FGF23 levels also rise following an increase in dietary phosphate intake. Maladaptive increases in FGF23 have a detrimental effect on several organs and tissues and, importantly, these pathological changes most likely contribute to increased morbidity and mortality. For example, in the context of heart disease, FGF23 is involved in the development of pathological hypertrophy that can lead to congestive heart failure. Increased FGF23 concentrations can also lead to microcirculatory changes, in particular reduced vasodilatory capacity, and collectively these cardiovascular changes can compromise tissue perfusion. In addition, FGF23 is associated with inflammation and an increased risk of infection; other potentially detrimental effects of FGF23 are likely to emerge in the future. Most importantly, recent insights demonstrate that FGF23 can be therapeutically targeted, which holds promise for the treatment of many patients in a variety of clinical settings.