Advances in growing semiconductor thin films with different physical and chemical properties has provided new opportunities in basic science studies and device applications in the electronics industry. Realization of the full potentials of heterostructures for novel nanoscale semiconductor devices require reliable and precise predictive models that are consistent with the fundamental principles of solid state physics. In this article, we present a semi-empirical second nearest neighbor sp(3) tight binding view of heterostructure electronic band structure calculations. Using this scheme, we discuss the modeling of the electronic band structure of AlGaAs/GaAs and InGaAs/GaAs heterostructures. The model should be useful in understanding the effects of electronic structure of heterostructures on charge transport and performance of nanoscale devices. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.