Heather Langenkamp was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. She got her start in acting when she was cast as an extra in the Francis Ford Coppola films The Outsiders and Rumble Fish, which were both filmed in Tulsa. Her scenes were deleted from the final cut of both films. While studying at Stanford University, she rose to international prominence when Wes Craven cast her as Nancy Thompson in A Nightmare on Elm Street.
After a string of television guest appearances, she returned as Nancy in the 1987 sequel A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Subsequently, she became known for her role as the moralistic Marie Lubbock on the ABC television series Just the Ten of Us, a spin-off of the popular ABC situation comedy Growing Pains (on which she guest-starred), from 1988 to 1990. In 1994, she portrayed fictionalized versions of herself in New Nightmare and the figure skater Nancy Kerrigan in Tonya & Nancy: The Inside Story.
The following year, she had a supporting role as the reporter Christy Carruthers in the horror film The Demolitionist. She served as executive producer and narrator for the documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, followed by roles in The Butterfly Room, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Truth or Dare. She has since starred in a variety of independent films.