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The gastrointestinal epithelium does much more than provide a physical barrier between the intestinal lumen and our internal milieu. It is actively engaged in absorption and secretion of salt and water via ion transporters, exchangers and selective ion channels. It is also a continuously self-renewing epithelium that undergoes ordered growth and differentiation along its vertical axis. From this dual perspective, we will consider the actions of the ERBB family of ligands and receptors in the maintenance of gastrointestinal homeostasis and discuss instances when the actions of this family go awry such as in cancer and Ménétrier's disease.