Virginia "Pepper" Potts was a member of the secretarial pool at Stark Industries during the days when the company was run by Howard Stark. After the death of Howard, his son Anthony "Tony" Stark assumed control of the company, and quickly realized Pepper's value because she understood the day-to-day business of running the company better than he did. To Pepper's dismay, she found herself performing a great deal of Tony's work for him, as he was often out socializing. Pepper continued her studies in business administration in order to cover for her employer.
After Tony had become Iron Man, Pepper began to see a change in his behavior. Tony began to assume more of his responsibilities and eased the pressure off of Pepper, but still valued her contributions to the company. Pepper became infatuated with Tony, but he distanced himself from her emotionally because of his secret reliance upon the Iron Man armor to keep himself alive. Tony soon hired ex-boxer Harold "Happy" Hogan as his chauffeur. Happy was immediately attracted to Pepper and pursued her romantically, but Pepper repeatedly rejected his advances. However, when Happy was nearly killed aiding Iron Man against the Titanium Man, Pepper realized that she loved him. Eventually, they were married and left Stark Industries.
The couple fell on hard times. After adopting children, they lost custody since Happy was unable to keep a steady job. Pepper and Happy experienced marital problems over the years, and eventually divorced. They both returned to Tony's employ when he started up his business Stark Solutions (now both aware that he was Iron Man). Although Pepper found herself drawn to Tony again, their relationship remained platonic. Over time, she and Happy reconciled and remarried. The couple tried to start a family and Pepper became pregnant, but before she could tell Happy, she was assaulted by Iron Man's enemy Ayisha and lost the baby. Pepper withheld telling Happy about her miscarriage, which created new barriers to their relationship. Happy suffered brain damage after a fight with the Spymaster (Sinclair Abbot) that left him in a coma. Pepper requested that Tony turn off his life support as an act of mercy and Tony eventually complied.
Pepper became team leader of the Order, California's super heroic team mandated under the Fifty-State Initiative. Lacking superpowers herself, Pepper (a.k.a. "Hera") monitored and directed the team from their headquarters. When the Order was temporarily dissolved, Tony invited Pepper back to Stark Industries with a position in his special projects team, placing her once more close to his side.
After being caught in a catastrophic blast detonated by Tony’s foe Ezekiel Stane, Pepper suffered a grievous chest wound which Tony stabilized by installing a mag-field generator in her chest similar to the model he used in his earliest days as Iron Man. This generator saved her life. When Tony was hunted by Norman Osborn and his HAMMER agents for refusing to turn over the Superhuman Registration Database, he placed Pepper in charge of his firm so she could oversee the company’s shutdown. Pepper discovered the “Mark 1616” armor Tony had built for her. Using the armor, under the code name “Rescue,” Pepper helped retrieve Tony during his exile from the US where Tony purged his mind to erase the database. Pepper returned her electromagnetic generator back to Tony to help restore his mind. Whether Pepper will resume activities as Rescue is unrevealed.