With the global scope of sickle-cell disease, knowledge of the countless clinical presentations and treatment of this disorder need to be familiar to generalists, haematologists, internists, and paediatricians alike. Additionally, an underlying grasp of sickle-cell pathophysiology, which has rapidly accrued new knowledge in areas related to erythrocyte and extra-erythrocyte events, is crucial to an understanding of the complexity of this molecular disease with protean manifestations. We highlight studies from past decades related to such translational research as the use of hydroxyurea in treatment, as well as the therapeutic promise of red-cell ion-channel blockers, and antiadhesion and anti-inflammatory therapy. The novel role of nitric oxide in sickle-cell pathophysiology and the range of its potential use in treatment are also reviewed. Understanding of disease as the result of a continuing interaction between basic scientists and clinical researchers is best exemplified by this entity.