Child maltreatment represents one of the most adverse and stressful challenges that confront children. As the maltreating home is a dramatic violation of environments believed to promote adaptive and healthy development, research on child maltreatment informs developmental theory by elucidating the conditions necessary for normal emotional development. Maltreated children are exposed to an atypical emotional climate, characterized by less positive and more negative emotions than are generally expressed in nonmaltreating families. These aberrant emotional experiences can eventuate in neuropathological connections that undermine effective perception, regulation, processing, and understanding of emotions. Future directions in research on maltreatment and emotional development are discussed, including implications for implementing and evaluating preventive interventions.