Nodal is a TGF-beta-related embryonic morphogen that is expressed in multiple human cancers. Detection of Nodal expression in these tissues can be challenging if issues related to Nodal transcription and protein processing are not considered. Here, we discuss certain characteristics related to Nodal expression and function and how these can facilitate acquisition and interpretation of expression data, contributing to our understanding of the potential role of Nodal in human cancer. We also discuss how Nodal could be exploited clinically as a novel biomarker for cancer progression and therapeutic target. Cancer Res; 72(8); 1915-20. (c)2012 AACR.